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An Expansive Lent

by Pastor Kari Bahe
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Lent has always been one of my favorite seasons of the church year. That may seem odd, since it is almost always equated with sacrifice, confession, and a sort of dreariness. Not that our Lenten journey shouldn’t elicit some solemnity as we journey alongside of Jesus toward his death on the cross. There is much to be gained from an intentional, introspective, honest look at ourselves during Lent.

However, given the solemnity and sacrifice of the past years, it seems like Lent 2022 may be calling us to a different kind of faith practice. Could it be that, in the desert of these past few years, God is calling us to the abundance of an over-flowing stream this Lent? Could it be that, in the desert of uncertainty, God is calling us to the abundance of God’s ever-flowing abundance? Could it be that, in the desert of weariness, God is calling us to faith practices this Lent that assure us of God’s soul-restoring, soul-refreshing love and grace?

Looking over the Gospel texts appointed for this year, I am struck by how the scriptures point to a different kind of Lent. One that fully refreshes us. Renews us. Restores us. Fills us. The stories we will hear this Lent describe a God who invites us to a life that is lived with the blessed assurance of God’s abundance of God’s love and grace. The stories are filled with extravagance (the anointing of Jesus’ feet), abundance (the prodigal son/father), and faithful love overflowing from a Shepherd who guides us to still waters to restore our souls (Psalm 23). All of these promises seem like God supplying us with the sort of Lent we need in 2022.

This Lent, let us commit together to faith practices that will refresh us. Your staff members have been dreaming, praying, and planning for ways to offer you a Lent that will be restorative rather than demanding. We decided to focus on offering ways for you to “fill up” rather than “let go”. We’ve all given up more than we’ve wanted to these past years. We felt the Holy Spirit nudging us to offer an “expansive” Lent this year.

Ex·pan·sive

The formal definition of expansive is extensive or wide-ranging, spacious, and all-embracing.

From a spiritual standpoint, we add to that definition. Expansive living is a life that reflects the fullness that comes from right relationships with God, yourself, and others. Faith practices can help us expand our hearts and souls to that kind of expansive living.

So, we’ve centered on sharing nourishing faith practices for Zion this Lent. Some of the faith practices will be offered through Zion’s social media: musical offerings to restore our souls, and short devotions that center on one or two words for your day. Some will be in person at Zion: worship on Wednesdays and Sundays. Book studies that focus on “Traveling Light”. Bible studies that gently wade into the quiet waters of Psalm 23. A Bible study offered specifically for our Youth that explores “Enough”. Some of the faith practices will be resources for you to use at home: devotionals, prayer cards, and reflections. All are provided with the hope of giving you ways to find renewal and refreshment.

God’s love for us is breathtaking. God desires for us to have full, expansive lives. God’s promises come to us in many forms and always provide a love that is overflowing and expansive. There are so many ways this Lent to connect and be restored at Zion! Come find worship, art, music, study, fellowship, and service together. Come, let this Lent be like water in the desert for you! Come, and be restored. God’s promises are waiting for you.

Pastor Kari Bahe

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