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MARCH 2017

Monthly Message From the Study of Donegal Presbyterian Church

On Wednesday, March 1, the season of Lent will begin.  All the fast food restaurants will put their fish sandwiches on special, the colors of the cloths on the Lord’s Tables and the pastor’s stole will change to purple, and people around the world will embrace some sort of practice in their lives.

The season of Lent has entailed many kinds of practices.  Some of these practices are done on a personal level, leading the faithful on a journey to a place repentance.  Traditionally, these personal practices have included prayer, fasting, self-denial, and alms giving.

Now as Presbyterians, we are Christians within the Reformed tradition.  We believe that we are saved by nothing more than the sheer grace of God.  Our sins have been atoned for by the selfless love of Jesus Christ.  Any righteousness that we have in the eyes of God comes solely from the work of Christ, and not from any work of our hands.

However, as Reformed Christians, partaking in a practice can be quite powerful as a way to respond to the grace that we’ve been given.  Taking on a Lenten practice could be a wonderful way to further cultivate both our relationship with God and with each other.  In our busy world those relationships can be the first to take a backseat, and a Lenten practice might just be a great way for their renewal.

Although it is not a traditional Lenten practice, Donegal has customarily partaken in a practice of group study.  If done within the light of prayer, I believe the practice of study can be quite powerful for Lent.  The study we have chosen this year has a lot of potential to strengthen our relationships with God and each other, especially if done within a prayerful framework.

To be fair, it is a study that is geared toward adults.  (So if you would need childcare, please let me know, so that I can have it arranged.)  It is titled, “When Christians Get It Wrong,” and is written by United Methodist pastor, Adam Hamilton.  It is a video-based study that explores why so many young people have left church due to how it has handled such topics as politics, judgment, salvation, sexuality, tragedy, and science.  Even tough Hamilton touches on what many would consider “hot-button” issues of our day, I believe he does so in an even-keeled way that does not alienate one opinion or the other.

I am actually looking forward to partaking in this study together.  I am looking forward to seeing where our conversations take us, especially as we look to our life together as a “purple church.”  I am looking forward to it, because we are about to engage in a mission study together.  This prayerful group practice will be a good opportunity to begin to think how God may be leading our church’s witness in the world.

The Lenten Study will take place on Sunday evenings from March 5 to April 9.  We will begin with a potluck at 5:30 p.m., and the study will follow dinner.  Mike Wills will generally lead the discussion.  There will be a session or two where I will take the lead, and I will always be present in a pastoral role.

Consider joining us in our group practice this year.  I truly believe it will be an opportunity to grow together in faith, and begin to think about our witness in such a turbulent world.  I hope to see you there!

Your brother in Christ,