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Last night over fifty attendees gathered in Bailey Hall for the final Lenten meal of the season. Over the course of these past several weeks, it was wonderful to experience the numbers at the meals grow, and the more contemporary worship style flowing so freely & fluidly! The meal was italian fare, with pasta, bread, salad & desert.
The theme for the evening was compassion, and the “heart” or love that God makes known to us. We shared prayers and songs. This evening, were treated to three performances by a youth choir that Pastor Marisa had gathered. The attendees very much enjoyed the youth’s energy & exuberance as they sang more new and contemporary tunes. One song that the children sang was Audrey Assad’s For Love of You. This song was new to the youth, and they greatly enjoyed making it their own during rehearsals and sharing it with the congregation!
There were three devotionals, or hands-on projects, as part of the evening’s worship centered on heart & compassion. People were given the opportunity to go from table to table to take advantage of as many projects as time allowed.
First, we made crosses from palm fronds – the instructions were challenging at first, but when we all worked together we came up with a multitude of crosses & proudly displayed them to one another as we completed them!
Second, there was the option to create a prayer pocket with cross stitch design. Folks designed their own pre made pocket and completed it by folding a prayer into it, and taking it away with them as a devotional piece.
Third, folks made bracelets out of duct tape with a youth volunteer, and then affixed crosses to them as a decoration. Lots of smiles and energy in the room as we reflected on the cross, and Christ’s immense love for all of humanity.
Here are the two main concepts we reflected on in our worship before we adjourned:
How have you experienced or witnessed God’s compassion and love expressed? How have you witnessed people infused with God’s love carry that love forth into the world, and the lives of others?
Reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross. What are your thoughts about his self-sacrifice, his humanity? Reflect on Jesus’ compassion for humanity. What aspects of the crucifixion are most moving for you as we enter this Holy Week?
Then with a final song and a prayer, we bade farewell to one another until Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week in a few days time.
Do you have further reflections on the subject of compassion and Jesus Christ that you would like to share with the group? Please leave your comments below for further discussion and response.
At First Church Longmeadow these past couple of weeks, we have been singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart”, both in worship & in rehearsals for the upcoming April 9 Lenten Dinner. This week in rehearsal, one of the youth mentioned seeing a YouTube video of a 10 year old blind autistic boy singing this song. The boy’s name is Christopher Duffley. You can read more about his story here, and watch this moving video of him singing the song below.
This evening we enjoyed a simple dinner of homemade mac & cheese and green beans while we shared in a worship service themed after Jesus’ wandering in the desert wilderness for 40 days, where he was tempted by the devil.
The centerpieces of cactuses & sands recalled the desert lands, while we viewed photos of the Judean desert taken on the recent Holy Land Pilgrimage. We asked, “what does the desert remind you of? Make you think of? How do you feel when you find yourself out in the “wilderness” in your life, whatever shape that may take?
We sang several contemporary worship songs, with Pastor Marisa leading.
We also learned a breathing technique for meditation from Mary Friedman, designed to assist us in our internal journey this Lenten season. On the tables, there was a “homework sheet” for children to use over lent week by week – say the Lord’s prayer once a day, pass the peace each day in your home, experience nature, and so on.
At the end of the night when we were cleaning up, we learned that during worship one of the children had created a special homage to Pastor Marisa out of the Duplo Legos in the children’s area, featuring Pastor Marisa ministering to a group of wild creatures from a colorful pulpit.
How does the idea of a desert make you feel? What do you think Jesus was thinking & doing in the desert during those forty days, until his final triumph over temptation? Please leave your comments below.