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Pastor's Corner: Lent: About Jesus Christ? About others? About ourselves? Yes! Yes! and Yes!

As a member of the Greater Havre Area Ministerial Association, representing a participating church in the same, I so enjoy taking part in the many activities that gather together Christ-followers from various churches in Havre to worship God, fellowship and celebrate the Body of Christ, the church.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, GHAMA hosted an event we called “A Journey to Bethlehem and Beyond.” Along with the already established tradition of “The Living Nativity” hosted by Van Orsdel United Methodist Church, we wanted to expand the Christmas story to include events immediately before and some time after the birth of Jesus Christ.

The third week of January we celebrated the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” On Sunday evening, Jan. 24, we all gathered at the Havre Community Alliance Church for an “All-Church Sing.” What a fantastic evening, listening to so many talented musicians worshipping God in so many genres of expression. We followed that evening with a five-day breakfast schedule of meeting at various churches for breakfast, devotions and fellowship. Host churches included First Lutheran Church, Fifth Avenue Christian Church, Abundant Life Ministries Church, Van Orsdel United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church and Havre Assembly of God Church.

And now the season of Lent is upon us. Already we have had three Lenten lunches, Feb. 17 and 24 and March 3. Two more to go, March 10 and March 17.

All of these luncheons take place at Havre Assembly of God Church, 901 9th St. W. at noon.  The cost is only $3, $2 of the $3 going into our GHAMA account, and the other $1 staying with the church providing the food for the luncheon. Already, First Lutheran Church, Havre Assembly of God Church and St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church have provided food and devotions. On Thursday, March 10, Abundant Life Ministries Church will provide the soups and sandwiches. Then, on Thursday, March 17, Fifth Avenue Christian Church will do the same. We invite everyone to come on out and participate in these events.

Since we are observing Lent, why not refresh our memories as to what Lent is? Wikipedia says: “Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10 this year) and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday (March 27).

“The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penanc, repentance of sins, alms-giving, atonement and self-denial. This event is observed by Christians in the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. Today, some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lent, many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional, to draw themselves near to God. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ's carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. (We call this the “Walk of the Cross” and it will take place at 11 a.m. on Good Friday, March 25.)

“Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues and other elaborate religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. “Throughout Christendom, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat, most notably among Roman Catholics.

“Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days which, according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent, before beginning his public ministry. He fasted in the desert, after which he endured temptation by the devil.”

Prior to taking part in GHAMA here and in other similar ministerial associations in Chester, Choteau  and Glendive — I never really observed Lent. As an Assembly of God minister, it just wasn’t part of my heritage. When I first became aware of Lent, I “gave up for Lent” the three L’s: liver, lutefisk and liposuction. Obviously, I wasn’t giving up anything. Now Lent has taken on a more serious meaning for me. Rather than keeping the focus on me and what I can give up for Lent, I have been asking God to make my focus to be on others and to let what I give up be based on what I need to do to serve the needs of others. This Lenten season I would encourage you to embrace that challenge and why not begin to take part in all of these wonderful events hosted by GHAMA?

(The Rev. Edroy “Curt” Curtis is president of GHAMA and lead pastor of Havre Assembly of God Church.)


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