Divine Encounters in Surprising Place

by Pastor Doug Kelly (from January/February 2020 Briefs)

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night. 
– John 31:1-2
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 
– John 4:7   

I love the season of Advent at Bethany – all the sounds, candle lighting and celebration.  But before I know it, the other great season of the church year is here: Lent. 

A group of elders and staff met in January where we spent the morning reflecting on the season of Lent. We read the lectionary gospel readings for Lent.  From that gathering, a team was assigned to identify a theme for Lent and we now have one: Divine Encounters in Surprising Places.  

Four of the five Sundays of Lent focus on deep and profound dialogues that Jesus has with interesting people in unexpected places.  There’s stealthy Nicodemus in a night time engagement.  There’s the Samaritan woman at the well, and more.  The Sunday sermons will dive into these passages with the hope that each of us will find our place in these Jesus conversations, and hear his Word to us in our own life today.

Lenten Sermon Small Groups:  I want to invite your home group to consider meeting weekly during Lent and to use the lectionary gospel reading and sermon for your group study.  Participants would read the scripture and listen to the sermon (live or online) before your gathering.  The preacher each week will have posted a small group study guide to aid your discussion.  We will be launching 3 to 4 new Lenten groups for anyone who is not currently in a small group.  Stay tuned for further details coming soon.

Midweek communion:  On Wednesday mornings at 7:30, March 4 – April 8, you can celebrate the Eucharist in a 30-minute liturgy in the sanctuary.

We have two other learning opportunities to help prepare you for Lent:

First Sundays: Faith Formation – February 2, “Don’t Try This on Your Own: Life in Community as a Spiritual Discipline,” with presenter Jeff Van Duzer.

Living Jesus in Real Time: Learning from St. Ignatius of Loyola, February 7, 7:00 – 8:30 pm and February 8, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.  Our presenter, Margie Van Duzer, will introduce us to this pillar of Christian leadership and help us learn three of his spiritual practices just in time for Lent.

It all begins with Ash Wednesday worship, February 26, 7:00 pm, and continues through the five Sundays of Lent and Holy Week.  Make space for a divine encounter in your Lent.  God may indeed surprise you. 

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