March 15th marks the one-year anniversary of our new life during the pandemic. Remember how from one Sunday to the next we switched to online worship? Actually, online everything!
I’m really proud and grateful for how our staff and members have stepped up. We’re all learning new skills and new ways of doing things, improving week by week. Even as we all yearn to be back together in person, we will continue to keep safety and health as our top priorities. Please continue to mask up, keep a safe distance, wash your hands frequently—and reach out to the people you miss seeing. Those calls, emails, cards, texts keep us all connected and bring smiles to our faces. A care package dropped off on the front porch is a great idea!
In some ways, the pandemic has caused us all to withdraw and turn inward. It’s not just the masks and the distancing. It’s the uncertainty and anxiety about what’s happening and what’s going to happen, and about not knowing what the timeline will be for a new chapter to begin.
Our Lenten theme, “Opening Our Lives” is an invitation to take a deep breath and open our hearts to the presence of the Living God. It’s an invitation to open ourselves to the beauty, wonder, comfort and love of God’s kingdom that is all around us all the time.
This theme is taken from Opening Our Lives: Devotional Readings for Lent, written by Trystan Owain Hughes. It comes to us from the Bible Reading Fellowship in the U.K. and is the recommended book for Lent 2021 from the Archbishop of Wales.
Its opening prayer is found in the Introduction to our 2021 First UMC Lenten Devotional. May this be the prayer of our hearts this Lent:
“Loving God, in our sufferings and joys, in our relationships and daily lives, we ask that your kingdom come. Open our eyes to your presence, open our ears to your call, open our hearts to your love, open our ways to your will, open our actions to your compassion, open our pain to your peace, and, in doing so, open our world to your hope. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”