“Share It!” is a new monthly column in Reporter.
With Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent on Feb. 14, in what special ways does your congregation or school observe Lent?
Here are some responses we received to last month’s “Share it” question in Reporter.
From Rebekah Curtis, a volunteer at Trinity Lutheran Church, Worden, Ill.:
“Our small town, Worden, Ill., has a huge ‘Wordi Gras’ celebration every year. A crowd bigger than the town’s population comes to celebrate a redneck-style Mardi Gras with a family-friendly parade, followed by live music and big parties.
“This year our church got in on the fun by entering a Lent-themed float in the parade, reminding everyone of the true meaning of Mardi Gras. The float’s hillbilly clothesline displaying a hair shirt and fish were a big hit with the crowd. Parade walkers in ‘Lent is coming’ sandwich boards gave out 300 pretzel snack packs with our church’s Lent and Easter service schedule attached.
“Pedestrians called ‘Lent is coming!’ as our float operator drove through town after the parade to see the festivities. We had a great time letting our neighbors know that Trinity Lutheran Church is Worden’s source for Lent, and that they are always welcome in the Lord’s house!”
Todd Stevens, DCE at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Broken Arrow, Okla.:
“Our church has the pre-Lenten tradition of creating Alleluia banners the week before Transfiguration Sunday with all of our Sunday school children from age 2 through sixth grade.
“In the past, the children have used paints, crayons and other art media to create the banners. This year, each kid wove multi-colored ribbon through a fabric banner to create the unique Alleluia sign.
“Then on Transfiguration Sunday, all the children walk the banners down the church aisle to a chest in the chancel area. The children then place the banner in the chest and close it. We keep it closed until Easter Vigil when the children will take the banners out and hang them in the sanctuary.”
James Oloff, a teacher at Hope Lutheran Church and School, Idaho Falls, Idaho:
“Lenten activities at Hope Lutheran are a collaborative effort involving the school (preschool through sixth grade), the youth group (seventh through 12th grades) and congregational members. Lent begins on Shrove Tuesday with a pancake lunch made and served by the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders for all school students, their families and congregation members. Midweek services are preceded by soup-and-roll suppers in partnership with St. John Lutheran Church, an LCMS congregation in Idaho Falls. Students also perform an operetta to share the Easter message with the community. This year’s was called ‘Good News from a Grave.’
“On Easter Saturday, the youth group hosts an Easter-egg hunt with 5,000-plus plastic eggs filled with candy as well as school and church information. Over 450 children from the community collect the eggs scattered over the soccer field and church lawns. Volunteers at information and craft booths share church-service times, school-enrollment forms and an invitation to Easter breakfast. But most important, each egg contains a message of salvation through Jesus Christ.”
Rev. Burnell Eckardt, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Kewanee, Ill.:
“We observe Lent by following various recommendations for fasting; also by eliminating flowers, the ‘Gloria in Excelsis’ and alleluias. We schedule no weddings. Then, during the last two weeks (Passiontide), we veil all images and remove all ‘Glorias’ (including ‘Gloria Patri’). From Good Friday until Part 4 of the Easter Vigil, no organ is used.”
Rev. Christopher S. Esget, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Alexandria, Va.:
“Our congregation marks the First Sunday in Lent by singing the Litany first thing, which helps to set the tone for the season. The students in our school gift-wrap an ‘Alleluia’ banner as a present, with a note: “Do not open until Easter!”
Rev. Steve Schulz, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D.:
“During the season of Lent, we use a Lenten Cross to help us remember the events that led Jesus to His crucifixion. The six purple candles on the Lenten Cross represent the six weeks of Lent. The white Christ Candle is in the center, representing the joy and purity of the life and work of Jesus.
“During the Advent season, as we light the four candles on the Advent wreath, the light increases in anticipation of the glorious Light of Christmas. Conversely, as we extinguish the six purple candles of the Lenten Cross, the light decreases in anticipation of the darkness of Good Friday. The Lenten Cross grows darker and darker as the cross looms larger and larger for Jesus.
“We extinguish one candle each week immediately following the Confession of Sins as a reminder that it was also our sins that sent Jesus to the cross. The white candle is extinguished at our Good Friday service.”
Our next “Share It!” question:
How does your congregation or school welcome visitors? How do you make new parishioners and students feel welcome?
In brief (a few paragraphs), please share your ideas in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, title, church/school name and its city. We’ll publish as many as we can in the April Reporter.
Posted Feb. 28, 2018