I love to tell the story: how pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy word.
I love to tell the story; ‘twill be my theme in glory
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
We begin this month with the wonderful words of the second verse of English missionary Katherine Hankey’s hymn as we move into our second month of our 2018 theme, “I Love to Tell the Story.” Last month, I kicked off the year with the more familiar first verse, but this second verse really fits well with the Lent seasonal activities begin in February!
The season of Lent begins with our Ash Wednesday service at 6:30pm on Feb. 14 (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day). I assure you that the apparent contradiction between Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day is not lost on me--it certainly makes this year’s rendition of Ash Wednesday quite interesting...and quite possibly transformative in my thinking. Like many Lutherans throughout the ages, I have always thought of Ash Wednesday in terms of my incredible insignificance in the grand scheme of God’s wide world. I have always seen that day of the church year through the lens of Genesis 3:19: “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” But with Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day colliding this year, I am looking at Ash Wednesday differently. I am looking at it not just as a day to confess our sinfulness and pray for forgiveness and reconciliation, but rather as a day that is grounded in what makes confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation work in the first place--God’s love. You might say that instead of simply repeating the old, old story, we will tell that story with a fresh perspective.
As the season progresses, though, we will do more than reframe an old perspective on a single day. Much of our attention during Lent will go toward training ourselves to look for and share news of God’s work in the world around us. We will get quite a bit of practice at this throughout the 40 days of Lent, constantly engaging the question: “Where have you seen God at work?” This will be the central question of our Wednesday night series, which we are calling the “Lent Share & Prayer” series. Each Wednesday night from Feb. 21 through Mar. 21, we will gather for a simple supper at 5:30pm followed by a prayer service that begins with a time of sharing our stories of where we have seen God at work throughout the week and concludes with the beautiful music of Holden Evening Prayer by Lutheran composer Marty Haugen. Through the week, we will continue to exercise our storytelling muscles on the church Facebook page as we invite you to share in our “40 Days of God Sightings.” I am still coming up with a helpful and manageable way to field your comments on the page for this 40-day campaign, but stay tuned for more information and be on the lookout for God’s next action around you!
Pastor Micah Garnett has been our Pastor since July 2016. He grew up in York, PA and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. He enjoys worship, working with social services in Fulton County, writing hymns, and cycling.