PENNSYLVANIA SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE
OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Olivet-Schwenkfelder
United Church of Christ

619 Township Line Road, East Norriton, PA  19403
"An Open and Affirming Community of Faith"
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Lent begins early this year, with Ash Wednesday falling on February 14th. Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is preparation and penitence. Unlike Advent, which is a time of anticipation and celebration, Lent is a somber season of repentance. The six weeks of Lent recall the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. During that time of separation, prayer, and fasting, Jesus was tried and tempted. Being fully human, Jesus fought against the sins of gluttony, hubris, and power. Being fully divine, he was able to overcome those temptations.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, and is an opportunity to contemplate our transgressions. In Biblical times, throwing ashes over one's head signified mourning, and repentance before God. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. The prophet Daniel recounted pleading to God this way: "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). Today, many Christians across denominations mark Ash Wednesday with penitential worship and imposition of ashes. Receiving ashes becomes part of the act of confession, and a reminder that our sinfulness led to Christ’s death.

This Lent, our congregation will once again be worshipping with our ecumenical partners; sisters and brothers from other local churches in the community. I encourage you to attend these Wednesday night services. The first service – Ash Wednesday – will be held here at OSUCC. This year, the sermon theme will be “Christ’s Passion in the Face of Injustice.” Each Wednesday we will examine how Jesus dealt with injustice in his final days, whether economic (the money changers at the Temple), political (his corrupt capital trial), or personal (his betrayal by friends). The service schedule, including host congregations and preachers, is included in this newsletter. These special services provide an opportunity to experience worship in other Christian traditions and churches, while journeying towards the cross with Christ. Please join us, and invite a friend! Finally, as Lent approaches, take time to consider how you will prepare for Christ’s death… Worship? Fasting? Prayer? Charitable giving? Over the next forty days, how will you acknowledge your sins, and atone for wrongs done in thought, word, and deed?

Blessings,
Pastor Leslie


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