Enriching the Lenten Season
Hosting unique worship services, special meals and events, TAC churches are experiencing Lent in a variety of ways
Praying for Others
Texas Annual Conference leaders gathered for a special Ash Wednesday service February 18 in the service center chapel in Houston. Dr. Chuck Huffman offered a devotional focused on the importance of prayer followed by imposition of ashes for all those in attendance.
Service Center staff and cabinet members took turns praying over one another’s ministry before breaking into teams to prayer walk around the building. Prayer groups led by District Superintendents took lists of every church in their area and prayed for the ministries and leadership of each church serving within the Texas Annual Conference.
Most people would not consider pancakes to have any spiritual significance. However, the season of Lent gives United Methodists across the Texas Annual Conference (TAC) a way to recall the larger story behind the celebration of Easter Sunday as a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts. Cheatham Memorial UMC, Edgewood, was one of many of our churches to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, a custom based on the old Middle English verb “to shrive” (confess). Pancakes have long symbolized the Christian tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent. Cheatham Memorial UMC held a pancake supper open to the community, followed by a worship service with special music.
Special music was the centerpiece of the “Electronica Ash Wednesday Service” held at Memorial Drive UMC, Houston, at 7 a.m. and again at 9 p.m. Publicity described this Electronica Ash Wednesday as an experiential service where ancient practices are met with modern ambient sounds. Participants were encouraged to attend before or after work “for a time to remember our mortality with the imposition of ashes and experimental music selections that will enliven your senses and stir your soul as we begin the Lenten season.”
“I listened to a lot of electonica music while I studied in seminary, so I thought it might be interesting to incorporate electronica and ambient music as a backdrop for reflection alongside the morality introspection that takes place during an Ash Wednesday service,” says Reverend Michael Jarboe. “We had just under 30 folks show up for the morning service, including doctors in scrubs, students and teachers who were about to go to school, baristas about to start their morning shifts, and a wide variety of other churchgoers and non-churchgoers. It was a beautiful mix of people.”
Westbury UMC, Houston, is encouraging the practice of prayer each Wednesday in Lent through a variety of opportunities:
- Prayer Labyrinth | Walk the labyrinth in the Parlor with handouts available as an aid to contemplative prayer and reflection.
- Simple Supper | A simple, come-and-go dinner of soup and bread will be shared
- Prayer Services | Midweek prayer will be in the Chapel with nursery care available in the Children's Wing. The service on March 11 will be especially engaging for families with kids, and on March 25 there will be a service of healing.