For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
— Ecclesiastes 3:1
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming Easter. It is a time set aside in the Christian year for self-examination and reflection. We take this time to focus on our relationship with God.
In the spirit of Lent, we begin the season with Ash Wednesday. This year on February 10, in addition to worship services, FUMCFW invites you to an experience of guided prayer and meditation. Prayer stations in the Sanctuary will help you find meaningful connection — both with yourself and with God. “So much of Lent is about self-examination and reflection,” says Rev. Casey Orr, Associate Pastor of Discipleship. “The season invites us to evaluate our spiritual lives and determine what changes we might make to improve our relationship with God. These stations are a meaningful on-ramp to the work of this season.”
The prayer stations are designed for as much or as little time as your schedule allows, so you can come and go as you please. “We are all so busy, and we fill our precious minutes with so many noisy activities and events,” Casey explains. “We are on the move, and sometimes our going prevents us from stopping long enough to turn toward our relationship with God and our faith.” She describes the prayer stations as a beautiful opportunity to pull ourselves out of the busyness of life to enjoy the peace of the Sanctuary and the presence of God. “That’s what they have meant to me,” Casey adds. “Some of my most formative spiritual experiences as a teenager were around prayer stations on youth trips, and they continue to have the potential for meaningful and transformative experiences.”
According to Casey, time and uncertainty are barriers to prayer. “We don’t have (or make) enough time, and we’re not sure how to do it or what to say,” she says. “By making the effort to come to prayer stations, you are making time and eliminating that barrier.” To help you try to eliminate the uncertainty barrier, FUMCFW is giving you both words and actions. Many of these can be used at home and will hopefully contribute to a meaningful prayer life moving forward.
Here’s how it works: When you begin the stations, you’re given a booklet that guides you through all of the experiences. When you arrive at each station, you begin by reading a passage of scripture. There is a brief application of that scripture to our lives and our world. Then, you are given instructions for an action. The actions can be as simple as lighting a candle, looking at images, or tying knots in a rope. However, all of the actions have one thing in common: each one is a tangible connection to the message found in scripture.
In addition, the prayer stations correspond to the Sundays in Lent, so each station represents one of the scriptures from Dr. Bruster’s sermons throughout the season. His sermon series, Saving Grace: Seven Facets of Salvation, will explore the question “What is salvation?” and look at salvation through seven various biblical lenses. “The stations will prepare us for Lent in a broad sense,” Casey declares, “but they will also prepare us for the unique experience of Lent at First Church as we begin to think about Saving Grace.”
While the idea of prayer stations might sound foreign or unfamiliar or even strange, Casey points out that they offer each of us an opportunity to design our own experience. “They are really quite simple and approachable for people of all ages, at all stages of faith,” she adds. There are no minimums or maximums on the time you take; you can go to one station or all of them. You can stay for as little as five minutes or for as long as an hour. But take it from Casey: whatever you do will be more than worth your time. “If you’ve never tried anything like this before, I encourage you to give it a chance,” she urges.
The Ash Wednesday prayer stations will be in the Sanctuary on February 10 from 7:30 – 9:30 am, 11:00 am – noon, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, 6:00 – 7:00 pm, and 8:00 – 9:00 pm. Take the time to start this season with prayer, and let it lead your faith in a new way. For more information, contact Rev. Casey Orr (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 817/339-5067.