How will lent be different this year

Lent is a time of penance, prayer and introspection. Typically, the focus is on mortality. Because the fragility of life has been under the microscope since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago, many pastors will draw upon Lent to deepen faith and as a reminder of our dependence upon God. By mediating on grace, we find an opportunity to recapture joy – and to keep our eyes on resurrection.
With Lent on the horizon, Cross Connection recently reached out to a clergy member and a layperson to learn about their plans for 2022.

Sarah Odom, Associate Pastor at Jacksonville First UMC
1. How will Lent be different this year? Or will you be able to return to your normal plans?
Right now, Jacksonville First UMC is planning on having a normal Ash Wednesday service including the imposition of ashes to begin the season of Lent on March 2. I think this Lenten season will be different and enhanced from the past, because both myself and the Senior Pastor Rev. Doug Wintermute will offer two separate Bible studies. Each of these four-week studies will cover Lenten topics inspired by the UMC Lectionary, “Namesake” by Jessica LaGrone, “Seated with Christ” by Heather Holleman and additional resources.
2. What themes will you have for your sermons this year? Is there a particular focus that you will be sharing with your congregation?

During this Lenten season, I want to highlight our identity as Christians being found in Christ. If God’s going to make you like Jesus, God is going to take you through everything Jesus went through. I think as Christians, we fall into a mindset that exempts us from difficulties, suffering, illness, tragedy and the like. Rather, if we strive to be like Jesus, as Christians, we will face the same loneliness that Jesus felt. Christians will be misunderstood, discouraged and tempted just like Jesus was. As Pastor Rick Warren says, “God is more interested in our character, instead of our comfort.”
3. For you personally, what will Lent mean for you? Are you focusing on anything in particular in your own reflection, meditation or prayer?

During this Lenten season, I hope to enhance my relationship with Christ by spending more time in creation and discovering the goodness that is around me. Every week, I walk with friends and church members through a local park to exercise and appreciate God’s creation. I plan to continue this practice and include ways of meditation and prayer along the way.

Nadia Hood, member of Ashford United Methodist Church, daughter of Rev. Irv White
1. How will Lent be different for you this year?

I believe Lent won’t be much different than the past. We may not gather with as many people as we normally would, but the acts of Lent can still be normal. Maundy Thursday may be a bit different because of Covid, and we normally have an egg hunt for the families, but this year, those things will not happen. We’re just trying to keep everyone safe and not spread Covid.

2. What is your usual focus during Lent?

During Lent, we focus on the resurrection. We focus and reflect on what God sacrificed for us and how we as followers of Christ can sacrifice time to spend time with Him and complete the work He started here on earth.

3. What will be on your mind this year, the heart of your prayer, meditation or reflection?

I am focusing on being closer to Christ and on my new chapter in life as I get married in July. I am asking God to help me embrace my upcoming new role as a wife and asking to help me be a great support to my two children, as we all adjust to our new life.