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Letting Go for Lent

March 23, 2011

It’s been quite a journey through the past two weeks, connecting with folks anew over the need to let so many things go. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how it would all play out. Certain topics, after more than year into my relationship with a new congregation, feel like they will be resonant. I knew it was time to preach on simplifying, but I wanted to relate it to the grander scales that people are facing now. Our problems may well be “first world,” but they are still felt deeply and they still hang us up.

If you haven’t heard, we’re doing a sermon series and worship focus through Lent of “Letting Go.” We started with “Letting Go of Assumptions” on March 13th, the first Sunday of Lent, then moved to “Letting Go of Worry” on the 20th. The order is no accident. The worship team and I worked very carefully to craft a liturgy sequence that would allow a progressive lightening of the spiritual load on our way to the final stop on Palm Sunday, “Letting Go of Doubt.” We’ve got a lot to get rid of before we’re able to move to a place where we will even be able to hear one another clearly again and really focus on matters of the Spirit. I don’t say that as a criticism of this congregation, but rather as a blanket judgment on most of us and the way we (fail to) process what we’re going through in the rest of our non-church lives.

This coming week we’ll be “Letting Go of Fear.” One note, if you’re listening along to the podcast, which you can pick up here. Each week at the end of the sermon, we turn to a wreath of candles, one for each Sunday of Lent, and extinguish a candle for the thing we’re letting go. Sometimes, these things are going to be just too personal to share. This is a witnessing congregation, where we say things that are very close and that we would probably not share anywhere else outside of our immediate families. As a result, some weeks you may hear the person who is giving that particular thing up or you may not. The first week, Steph shared giving up assumptions about the homeless after our trip to Ecclesia Ministry’s CityReach program. Last week, someone pledged to give up worries, but it was more for folks who were there than for a general audience. In that case, you hear me say, “Who will let go of Worry?” at the very end, and it may seem like nothing happens.

But boy did it. In a big way. It was a really touching experience, and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve been receiving around this series. I look forward to the rest of the series, and I hope it is challenging and inspiring for the people in the pews.

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