In November, several members of Bethlehem attended a conference at Messiah Lutheran Church that introduced the new hymnal of the ELCA. Together with hundreds of Lutherans from Spokane and the surrounding area, we sang hymns and liturgies from the hymnal entitled “Evangelical Lutheran Worship” (ELW). To be honest, all of us that went really like the old green LBW hymnal, and were pretty suspicious of this new red one. As we learned and sang, however, we began to come around, and by the end of the day were excited about the renewed worship possibilities of this new hymnal. The worship committee has decided to try out one of these new liturgies (the one we liked the best) during the season of Lent which begins at the end of this month. If you would like to take a look at all that is in the new hymnal (it includes 10 settings of Holy Communion including two from the LBW), talk to Jan McKee or me and we can point you to one of the copies that are floating around Bethlehem. Those of us that plan worship are looking forward to getting to use this new resource and we hope that it enriches your worship life this Lent.
This Lent we will also be holding mid-week services. Lent is historically the time when new Christians undertook a 40 day period of study, fasting, and prayer in preparation for baptism which would have happened on Easter Vigil, the night before Easter Sunday. Longtime Christians have also observed Lent as a time for study, fasting, and prayer and to reconnect to their Christian faith. Some people give up something for the 40 days of Lent (chocolate, coffee, and cigarettes always seem to top the list) while others make a commitment to take on some sort of spiritual practice, perhaps prayer, a simple meal, or a mid-week worship service. The service of Ash Wednesday jump starts Lent with a 7pm service on Wednesday, Feb 21st. Our Wednesday night Lent services this year will begin on Feb 28th with a soup supper at 5:30pm and a prayer service at 6:15pm. The prayer service will use the songs and style of prayer that come from the Taizé Community in France. The simple meditative service of chant and silence developed as a way to invite young people into prayer, and hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world have flocked to Taizé ever since. I hope that you will find it a helpful addition to your spiritual journey, and a time of rest and reflection in the middle of your week. To learn more about Taizé visit www.taize.fr.