Weekly Lent services highlight relationships
The Mount Carmel Area Ecumenical Ministerium will present community mid-week Lenten Services.
All services will begin at 6 p.m. with the sharing of a common meal consisting of soup and a sandwich followed by the service, where participants sit together in fellowship. The offerings at these services will be used to assist the poor and needy of our communities.
This season of Lent can be a time for abstinence and for an increase in the formalities of our faith. It's a time that can easily be ignored. In either case, it will be a season which is neither more nor less fruitful than any other.
Lent can also be a time when we face, as honestly as we can, the suffering the Son of Man was willing to bear for us. It can be a time when we try to learn to shape our own lives so we can become more considerate and compassionate in the face of the needs of others. It can be a time when we can learn to live in such a way, that we will truly help others, to find a more abundant life.
A trivial Lent will leave us asking why the innocent suffer; a true Lent will bring us closer to the Lord of life, who himself suffered, that we might live. In the dying and rising again of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has not answered our questions. Instead, he has given us the ability to love and to live forever.
Our theme for the next six weeks will be "By His Stripes" - Healing Wounded Relationships. Christianity is about relationships: our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Please join us as we follow Christ along his Lenten way and discover how he reclaims us and all our relationships. Listen to the powerful message of God's death defying love directly into the family. Come join us on this Lenten journey as we focus on changing destructive patterns and tap into the secrets of healing wounded relationships.
We begin our journey with the Destructive Pattern of Escalation. Little arguments that escalate into ugly fights with accusations, criticism, name calling and bringing up past hurts, each time upping the ante. We see this as troops overtake Jesus in Gethsemane and he stands before Caiaphas.
Our journey continues with the Destructive Pattern of Invalidation. A pattern where one puts down the thoughts, feelings or character of another. Instead of tearing one another down, we need the ability to validate and build up. We see this in the testimony against Jesus at his trial.
We continue with the Destructive Pattern of Negative Interpretation. How you say things can make a tremendous difference. Relationships deteriorate when negative interpretations increase and it creates an environment of hopelessness and demoralization. One person assumes what the other person is thinking and why they are doing what they doing. Scripture says, "As a person thinks, so they become." We will see what we expect to see. We find this in the High Priest's reaction to the claims of the Christ. We see one negative interpretation after another.
The journey continues with the Destructive Pattern of Withdrawal. You may simply end a conversation by walking out of a room or by complete silence. Avoiding communication is withdrawal. We see this in Peter's denial of his Lord. We find it in the passion story of Christ.
The following week we see The Secret of Not Having Unrealistic Expectations. We have expectations that cannot be met. Believing things that are simply untrue, or aren't humanly possible in our world of sin. What Jesus did is a lesson for us - an important lesson in relationships. He recognized people who were not perfect, people who needed forgiveness. We see this in Jesus' willing sacrifice.
We come to the end of our journey with The Secret of Forgiveness and Absolution.
Healthy relationships always include forgiveness and absolution. We find this in Jesus' opening of paradise to a sinner.
Please join us at 6 p.m. on the following Wednesdays:
Feb. 20 - Services at Grace United Church of Christ (basement), Third and Market streets, Mount Carmel.
Feb. 27 - Services at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church (parish hall), Market Street, Mount Carmel.
March 6 - Services at Kulpmont United Methodist Church (basement), Kulpmont.
March 13 - First United Methodist Church (basement), Hickory Street, Mount Carmel.
March 20 - Holy Angels Catholic Church (activity center), Kulpmont.