Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 1. This season of 40 days (plus Sundays) leads up to the most important observance of the Christian year: the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christmas is (without doubt) the most popular Christian celebration (and one which we have generously shared with the world at large!). But the Great Three Days – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil of Easter/Easter Day – is what gives Christianity its identity. We often summarize this through the text of John 3:16 – that God loved the world so much that God gave God’s Son to the world, so that through the Son the world might be saved or restored to right relationship with God and one another.
As we walk through this observance each year (this year on April 13-16), we renew our identity as followers of Jesus and members of Christ’s Body, the church. Over the years, a number of you have asked whether Highland would offer an “adult confirmation class” that would help (re)familiarize us with core Christian concepts and practices. The request comes because of the popularity of the Confirmation Class that Doodle offers each year for our middle school young people. This year, on four Sunday afternoons during Lent, we will offer a “mini-confirmation class” built around four core “practices” – things we do that mark us as Christian and shape our faith.
The basis for our reflection will be the book Being Christian, by Rowan Williams. Williams was Archbishop of Canterbury (the leading bishop of the Anglican Church worldwide) from 2002-2012. He has now returned to teaching at Cambridge University and this little book is based on lectures given during Lent in 2013. Williams is a very accessible and engaging author. In the introduction, he reminds us that “Christians are received into full membership of the Church by having water poured or sprinkled over them; Christians read the Bible; Christians gather to share bread and wine in memory of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth; and Christians pray.” Despite the great range of Christian thought and practice, these four things are common to all who follow Jesus and serve as anchors of Christian identity. Reflecting on them together will help us renew our faith.
Please join us for these conversations: March 12 – Cynthia Campbell leads discussion on Baptism; March 19 – Matt Nickel leads discussion on reading (or hearing) the Bible; March 26 – Cynthia leads discussion on Eucharist; April 2 – Cynthia concludes the study with a discussion of prayer. Please join us on these Sundays at 3pm. The book is available through Amazon (Kindle or Prime membership at less than $6) or could be ordered through Carmichaels.
I have found I prefer to “take up” rather than “give up” something for Lent. Please consider joining us to “take up” a reflection together on what it means to be Christians in today’s world. And may you have a blessed and holy Lent.
Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor