We’re approaching the first Sunday of Lent 2021. I know — in some ways it feels as though we never emerged from Lent 2020. But as the readings for this Sunday illustrate, God has been present in all of humanity’s ordeals since, well, forever — even when the stories indicate that God imposed, or at least allowed, them to happen in order to make a point. It is that point which continues to be hotly contested. Is it about God’s power or plan? Is it about sin, suffering, and salvation? Whose? Jesus’? Humanity’s? Ours, individually? And then we’re back to why? Why does anyone have to suffer?
I’m not convinced that the synoptic Gospel writers were in consensus about any of this either. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus was led into the wilderness. But in Mark, “the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness.” Somehow it seems more comforting to think that Jesus went voluntarily, with purpose, or to discover a purpose. For him to be coerced in any way implies that he might have been reluctant. And the day before this, Jesus was baptized and the same Spirit was heard saying, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” So now this whole sequence of events is sounding less like a holy, mystical vision quest and more like a parent’s tough love. God’s call to the rough places could be either, for me, depending on the day.
Each Lent, our liturgy and churches invite us into six weeks of reflection — which often include choices of some voluntary fasting, spiritual practice, and alms giving — which we call a metaphoric wilderness. Since last Lent, it got real. We’ve had to redefine “freedom” and “control” and yet we still long for it. What would happen if we let that go and allowed ourselves to be led by the Spirit?
Peace be with you,
Children and Family Formation
Sundays at 10am | Online
Join us for Children’s Time on Zoom. We’ll start with a brief opening assembly together and then, each week, children can choose from two different breakout groups.
Godly Play (Preschool and older)
Story: The Faces of Easter 1
Response Time: Drawing and collage materials
Whole People of God (2nd Grade and older)
Lesson Theme: Let It Go
Activities: 40 video, Bury the Alleluia
Psalm for the Wilderness
Sundays at 10am | Online
The Season of Lent leads us through changing, and sometimes challenging, spiritual landscapes. Through the close examination of several beautiful and beloved examples, this Bible study will consider how the superlative Hebrew poetry of the Psalms might accompany us and enrich our journeys. For the first four Sundays of Lent, join Mother Beth Blunt and Summerlee Staten, Executive Director of Faith Formation & Education, in exploring the nature, history, and import of this pivotal collection. During the last week, parishioner and poet Chester Johnson will discuss his work on the drafting committee for the retranslation of the Psalms contained in the current Book of Common Prayer.
- In this reflection, Rob Gieselmann illuminates how wilderness experiences change us — and “how God is not nearly as afraid of our life in the wilderness as we are.”
- An animated video for all ages of Jesus in the wilderness
- Today is Ash Wednesday. No ashes will be imposed at Trinity Church, nor at most churches in New York City, but families can still enter into the Season of Lent from wherever they are with Ash Wednesday at Home.
- We can’t create an Alleluia banner for the church together this year, but you can create and bury or hide the Alleluia at home with this coloring page or with this origami masu box. You could also make the box with any size square paper. Write Alleluia on one side and color the other side, or write Alleluia on a small scroll to go inside the box. Make two; one can be used as a lid. Here’s an instructional video.
- Family Worship: Home Edition