A year ago, I was promoting a new concept for our Lenten mid-week worship. I called it Dinner Church. We would gather at the church and throughout our time together we would share the food we brought, scripture, song, conversation and prayer. That worked, for about two weeks. Then COVID restrictions took over and that was the end of Dinner Church.
As we transitioned online, I found myself repeating a friend, “virtual is not the opposite of real, it’s the opposite of in-person.” I repeated it in personal conversations, I included it in a sermon, it became a mantra for me. I guess I needed to convince myself.
That was then, and this is now! With eleven months of practice, I think it’s time to re-visit Dinner Church. No, we won’t be gathering at the church, but we will be gathering as the church.
First, Ash Wednesday.
This year, Lent will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 17, at 7 PM in our sanctuary. This will be a combined worship with First Congregational UCC, which has been our custom. It will be live streamed to Facebook, just like on Sunday morning.
Can we impose ashes with the COVID restrictions? Well, yes and no. How? You’ll have to come and see. We will have two options for ash distribution. The first will be a drive-up, and the final will be at the worship. At worship and at the drive-up offerings will be received for the Hope Center. As we are participating in the Underwear & Sock Drive, you may bring money, (checks payable to E&R UCC), or a gift in kind, (Underwear for adults, underwear and socks for children and youth).
Ash Wednesday worship will begin at 7 PM. The drive-up will be 10:30 - 11:30 AM. Please drive around to the south side canopy where I will be waiting with your “ashes.”
Like before, Dinner Church will be a blend of worship and dinner. This year we will all participate from our own homes and whatever we prepare for ourselves. It will begin on Wednesday, February 24, at 6:30 PM on Zoom. If you’re not connected to the internet and want to participate, there is a way you can dial in. We won’t be able to see you, or you see us, but we can hear each other.
The “sermon” portion of our time together will include a scriptural reflection on limited portions from Holy Chaos: Creating Connections in Divisive Times, by Amanda Henderson.
Please contact Brigette, in the office, if you’d like to participate in Dinner Church so that she can send you the Zoom link and information when available.
The following prayers bring me strength through these times. I pray they will empower you as well.
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
A Prayer for Thankfulness and Hope
(from Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley)
We thank you, for you are our God, and God of our fathers and mothers forever. You are the Refuge of our life, the Shield of our help. From generation to generation may we thank you and count your praises—evening, morning, and noon—for our lives which are committed into your hand, for our souls which are entrusted to you, for your miracles which are with us every day, for your wonders and goodness at all times. O Good One, your compassion does not fail. O Merciful One, your lovingkindness never ceases. Forever we hope in you.
A Prayer by John Baillie
O God, who has been the Refuge of my fathers and mothers through many generations, be my Refuge today in every time and circumstance of need. Be my Guide through all that is dark and doubtful. Be my Guard against all that threatens my spirit’s welfare. Be my Strength in time of testing. Gladden my heart with Thy peace; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.