Lent 2024: Encounters On the Way

It’s the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.  I thought it was rare for this to overlap with Valentine’s Day, until Google revealed this happened as recently as 2018 and will happen again in 2029…

Our worship theme this Lent is “Encounters On the Way.” We’ll follow Jesus through Mark’s gospel as he encounters people and questions on his way to and through Jerusalem.  These stories are more challenging than comforting, and the visual installation in the sanctuary throughout the season represents the hard edges and indirect route of this path. 

Similar to how Chris Walker spoke of Transfiguration on Sunday, encounters happen all the time, and often the difference between the mundane and the holy is a matter of seeing, a matter of prepared receptivity, even a matter of expectation that there is something sacred about encounter itself.  And of course, sometimes an encounter gets through our thick protections despite ourselves. 

Which, I suppose, is one of the ways this Lent theme intersects with Valentine’s Day.  Love, in its rich variety, is all about the betweenness of an encounter.  Love is the energy of particular encounters that invites, even demands, us to alter our priorities – to de-center ourselves even as we fall into a center that reveals a deeper sense of self and our place in the world.

May this Lent bring with it encounters that challenge, disrupt, and delight.  May we find ourselves On the Way with Jesus.