Soon we will begin the liturgical season of Lent. Lent begins with ASH WEDNESDAY on February 17 and lasts through Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday, April 4. This year, there are four opportunities for you to connect and engage during this holy season:
1. Small Group Study: Wednesdays 7:30 - 8:30 pm
We'll be using The Walk in Sunday school classes, a small group, Youth Ministry, and Children's Ministry as well as for the theming of our virtual worship services during Lent. The study focuses on 5 essential spiritual practices:
The small group is open to anyone and will start Wednesday, February 24. To register, contact Rev. Susan Allen Grady: firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-936-1258.
2. Brief Wednesday Prayer Service on Zoom and Facebook Live: Wednesdays at 7 pm
Starting with ASH WEDNESDAY, gather virtually with the Embry Hills UMC community on Wednesday nights for a brief (30 minutes or fewer) prayer service on zoom and Facebook live. Service includes music, prayer, and scripture reading with a brief reflection. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/lentenweeklyservice21
3. Weekly Drive-in Service of Holy Communion: Sundays at 5 pm
Bring Your Own Elements (Bread & Juice) to this service in the back parking lot which will include hymns, scripture reading, and liturgy for Holy Communion. No food items will be prepared or served; please bring your own to receive in your car. At this time, participants are asked to stay in their cars for the duration of the experience.
4. Weekly Virtual Worship for Lent: videos uploaded every Sunday morning on YouTube and Facebook or available as an audio recording by calling 770-203-1174.
Make time for worship in your weekly routine! Using the themes of the small group study, The Walk, worship during Lent will be designed around the spiritual practices of worship, study, serving, giving, and sharing faith. Virtual worship is available on our YouTube channel (Embry Hills UMC). It's also available as a premiere on our Facebook page (Embry Hills United Methodist Church) every Sunday morning, starting at 10:58 am, where you can interact with others who are watching. Worship videos can be viewed any time after they are uploaded and premiered. Call 770-203-1174 to hear an audio recording of the service.
It was during this season in 2020 that we had to shut down our facility and shift everything to non-face-to-face contact and communication. This has gotten me thinking of things I wish I could give up for Lent in 2021:
not hugging people
As I list those things, however, I realize that they are also things for which I am truly grateful right now.
Without zoom, I would have seen very few of your faces since last March.
Without my computer screen, I have a much harder time getting a letter to you every week, I couldn't answer your emails and texts, and I would not be able to use Zoom.
Without masks, more people I know and love might have been infected with COVID-19 and possibly not survived.
And the fact that I listed "not hugging people" makes me realize how much I value human touch and interaction. Those quick hugs we'd often share after worship on Sundays meant as much to me as they did to you.
In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul says, "Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known." He does NOT say, now we see nothing, know nothing. What we see and experience now, even in the midst of a pandemic, is important, and it is shaping us. The letters to the Corinthians seem to respond to the struggle to create a peaceful, fulfilling, and transformational community life in the church at Corinth. That is a struggle we have known for 11 months now, and it is one I pray is transformed soon. But I honestly do not hope for everything to just go back to exactly the way it was before. I hope that when we are able to fully resume gatherings of all sizes, we will have experienced a change in the way we see and know both God and the church. I hope we will have learned that virtual worship and gatherings help us connect with people who might not ever be willing or able to enter a church facility. I hope we will have realized that there are still things to learn about how we "do church." In fact, I believe we have learned that it's not that we "do" church at all; it's that we ARE, church. I hope we are pleasantly surprised by how grateful we are for this time and what it is teaching us about how to be transformed into a stronger, more courageous, more innovative, and more risk-taking Body of Christ. This kind of church, I believe, will get the attention of everyone around 3304 Henderson Mill Road. It might even help us grow beyond an address and into a transformed Body who exists to be continually transformed!
These aren't just big ideas. This is where transformation starts--with a simple question: what if ...?
Let's put away our longing for the past for a little while. Let's change our question from "Remember when ...?" to "What if ...?"
What if ... you made a commitment to join in virtual worship every week during Lent?
What if ... you joined the 6-week small group that will start on February 24 to learn more about spiritual practices that can change your life?
Or, what if ... you simply bought the book and read it each week as a way to connect with what others in your church are studying during Lent?
What if ... you join virtual Wednesday Night Worship at 7 pm we'll be having during Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday?
Or, what if ... you commit to 30 minutes of prayer and reflection every Wednesday night at the same time that the virtual prayer service is happening as a way to be connected in prayer with your church?
What if ... we come out of this transformed into a more intentional Body of Christ who is finding new ways to bring our mission statement to life?
The Mission of Embry Hills UMC is to welcome all into a nurturing community of faith, to serve others, and to grow in Christ.