In the March edition of the New Heights Newsletter, Pastor Dan reflects on Lent, there are upcoming church events and more!
NEW HEIGHTS REFLECTIONS: Understanding Lent
Every late winter and early spring, we enter the season of Lent. Depending on your background, you may or may not be familiar with this religious season of the year. Now that we’ve moved our location to Mt Bethel United Methodist Church and are doing more cooperative ministry with them, you may have noticed that we have more Lent-based activities on our calendar. I thought it would be a good idea for us to review the background to this religious season.
Lent developed as part of the historical Christian calendar and is typically celebrated by Catholics and many Protestant churches that follow a liturgical calendar. Its basic concept is: to open our hearts to God’s grace through prayer, confession, fasting, and charity as we anticipate Holy Week. Lent lasts 40 days modeled after Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert. Lent begins with a reminder of our mortality on Ash Wednesday (March 1st this year) and ends on Good Friday (April 14). Let’s look at some of the key elements of Lent and see if there are things we can learn from it:
Purple: Like Advent, the official color for Lent is purple. Purple is the color of repentance for sins and also symbolizes the state of our souls outside the light of Christ. During this time, people pray for those who do not know Christ and for those who have sinned against Him.
Confession: Lent is a penitential season. The 40 days are set aside to really examine areas of recurring sin in our lives that prevent us from being conformed to God’s Will. The goal is to examine your life in light of God’s Word and to make a commitment to change in areas you have not submitted to the Lord.
Fasting and Prayer: These are practices that have really gone by the wayside in many Christian circles. Yet, if done correctly, they can be a powerful time of renewing our relationship with God. Fasting is a way of denying ourselves the excesses of life so that we might be more attuned to the Lord’s voice. It is also a way of disciplining ourselves so that when temptations arise in life, we are already used to saying “no” to our desires. And finally, fasting is also a way of participating, in a small way, in the sufferings of Christ.
Meditating on Christ’s Sacrifice: In addition to periodic fasting and prayer, Lenten scriptural meditations typically turn to the salvation offered to us through Christ’s suffering. People read Old Testament Scriptures prophesying the suffering of Christ (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53) and the Gospel accounts.
Charity/Alms-giving: A very important element of the Lenten season is becoming aware of not only the suffering and sacrifice of Christ but also to the suffering of others. Lent is a time when we Christians find our faith is not just a feel-good, self-help religion but one that answers the deepest questions of life and eternity.
I think Lent can be a valuable time for all of us to grow closer to God. Approached with a proper heart, God can use Lent to change us to be more like Christ. I encourage you observe Lent in whatever respect God leads you in preparation for Good Friday and Easter. – Pastor Dan
Ash Wednesday Service - Wednesday March 1 at 6:30 pm in the worship service here at Mt Bethel Church. Come and join our brothers and sisters in Christ from Mt Bethel in observing the beginning of the Lenten season.
Lent Soup Suppers - Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm during Lent (March 8 through April 6). Join us for soup and a time of prayer, song, and hearing a testimony from a missionary. Here is our tentative lineup:
- March 8: Malcolm Collins, East African Outreach Project, Twin Cities
- March 15: Gilmores, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Tanzania, Africa
- March 22: Kali Pliego, Se Luz, Guatemala
- March 29:John Gorder, Retired Lutheran Missionary: Central African Republic
- April 5: J.J. Wessman, Exiled missionary to Israel
Men’s Discipleship Breakfast - Saturday March 18th at 8:00 am at Sunlight Restaurant located at the corner of Marie and 7th Avenue in South St Paul. Come join the men of New Heights for a great time of food, fellowship and learning how to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ!
Easter Celebration - Come celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with us on Sunday April 16. Join us for breakfast and fellowship at 9:15 am. At 10:00 am we’ll have a joint-worship service with Mt Bethel in the worship center, followed by an Easter Egg Hunt for the children.
New Heights is looking for nursery help. We could structure this position as fulfillment of community service hours or as an internship for those interested in a childcare career. See Elisha for more info.
BIBLE STUDIES: We at New Heights believe strongly that our small group Bible studies will deepen your understanding of God’s Word and give you an opportunity to ask questions and apply the Bible to your life. We also spend time each week praying for each other’s needs. Our small groups are also a place where you can meet new people and form deep and meaningful relationships that can encourage and uplift you.
- Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm at various homes in Hastings led by Pastor Sherry (651) 276-9127. This group meets every other week and may at times move to another weekday evening so be sure to contact Pastor Sherry before attending.
- Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm at Pastor Dan & Marsha’s home led by Pastor Dan (651) 216-0923. Childcare is available for this group.
CHILDREN’S MINISTRY: We have an exciting Children’s ministry program at New Heights! We believe the Christian education of our children in solid, biblical instruction is of the utmost importance. It can make a difference not only in our children’s eternal destiny but in those they affect during their lifetimes. We offer the following children’s classes held during our Sunday worship service:
- Nursery: newborn through 3 years old
- Little Lambs: 4 year olds through 1st Grade
- Sonshine Kids: 2nd Grade through 5th grade
YOUTH GROUP: Our youth group is for students in grades 6-12. We meet on Sundays after church and also do periodic fun activities. For more information contact Pastor Sherry at (651) 276-9127.
“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.” – Mother Teresa
“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” – Andrew Murray
“Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God’s sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God.” - Thomas a Kempis