The First Church in Albany. Rooted in Jesus Christ and committed to the city and the people of Albany, New York. Come worship with us.
Beloved Congregation of Jesus Christ,
Today is Ash Wednesday.There will be a worship service with imposition of ashes tonight at 7:30 in the First Church sanctuary.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent, the period of forty days, not including Sundays, preceding Easter. For many Lent is a time to give greater attention to spiritual practices like prayer and reading. Sometimes people choose to ‘give up’ something as part of their Lenten discipline.
Chuck DeGroat, Associate Professor at Western Theological Seminary, offers these suggestions for our spiritual practices this Lent:
What if this Lent you chose not to give up chocolate or Facebook, but chose to give up blindly sleepwalking through life? What if that meant entering in to a hard conversation with great intentionality? Reading a book that will challenge your perspective, a book on racial injustice, for instance? Creating a space for 20 min of contemplative prayer in the morning and evening? Praying for someone who disgusts you?
There is an "easy" Lent and a "costly" Lent. For some, Lent has become God's yearly weight loss or sobriety program. For some, it is the I-spend-too-much-time-on-social-media guilt appeasement program. But Lent invites us to enter into a very hard conversation with ourselves. Our own choice will likely not mirror another's choice, because ours is deeply personal. This means that we ought not judge another's choice. But it ought not keep us from engaging each other honestly, with hard questions about what we need in this significant liturgical and existential moment.
It is a personal act of repentance, which means not just turning away but turning toward - which may be much harder. Turning toward uncertainty. Turning toward a hard conversation. Turning toward Flint. Turning toward a spouse who has become a stranger. Turning toward a healthy sexuality. Turning toward a forgotten stranger. Turning toward a need you've rejected. Turning toward an old gift you had that you've lost in the busyness of life. Turning toward being known. Turning towards Jesus and away from a more convenient God.