WEEK 5 

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.


Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.. Luke 1:5-15a
 

I admit, most of the time this passage is read at Christmas, not Lent! Yet, here we are - invited to eavesdrop on a miraculous encounter between Zechariah and God.  Zechariah could have never expected such an encounter with God! During the Christmas season we are tempted to fast forward to the birth of Christ. But as we make our way through this fifth week of Lent, let us consider what that must have been like
for Zechariah. His life wasn’t perfect or glamorous, but he seems content enough. This day in church started out like any other day…

 

More to Ponder:
Has there been a moment in recent history where you have been awestruck by the goodness of God? Has God placed someone in your life at just the right moment and you thought, “Wow!  This is amazing!” How can entering God’s sanctuary - that safe place in your heart where
the Peace of God dwells - invite you to enter a grace so amazing that only a whispered, “Thank you, God” will do?

As you journey through this fifth week of Lent, choose one or more recommendations from the prayer guide to enhance your experience.

LENT 2021

  • WEEK 1 LENT

    February 21-27, 2021


    [God said,] “And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8


    As we reflect on this verse from Exodus we remember the Children of Israel were still in the wilderness when God gave these instructions.  They often felt lost and isolated. Take a moment to reflect on why you think God found it important to “dwell among them?” What might it mean for us to create a space in our lives for God to dwell in the midst of our feelings of loss and isolation?
     

    More to Ponder:
    Read Exodus 25 and ponder why God might have given such elaborate details during such a time of transition.

     

    As you journey through this first week of Lent, choose one or more recommendations from the prayer guide to enhance your experience.
    When you read the recommendation to “try a different rhythm” do you become anxious or hopeful? Take a moment to pray, journal, or talk to someone you trust about what you are discovering about the contrast that this season is offering you. What is one thing you will do this week to help you stay connected to God’s desire to be a part of your day-to-day life?

  • WEEK 2 LENT

    February 28-March 6, 2021


    But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.  For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! Hebrews 9:11-14
     

    In Hebrews 9:1-10 the writer reminds us of the sanctuary (tent) that was built in the days of Moses (Exodus 25). The writer reminds us of the elaborate and costly candlesticks, the incense, the Holy of Holies… so many
    powerful symbols of God’s deity. When we contrast that scene to our very lives that now becomes the sanctuary where the Spirit of God dwells, what are the traits and strengths you have that can be used as symbols of God in your life?

     

    More to Ponder:
    Try to imagine the scene of animals being offered as a sacrifice. Maybe, like mine, your thoughts go to the messiness, the sounds, the smells. It is certainly a contrast of the
    “sanctuary” we are trying to embrace! But it does remind us that even in our own lives our best intentions and offerings can end up messy - not quite what we had envisioned. Take a moment to thank God for the salvation that is offered to us without price. What will you offer today to express your gratitude?

     

    As you journey through this second week of Lent, choose one or more
    recommendations from the prayer guide to enhance your experience.

  • WEEK 3 LENT

    March 7-13, 2021.

    Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and glorious perch. Where are your energy and your might, your concern and your pity? Don’t hold back!
    Isaiah 63:15
    In Isaiah we hear a cry for remembrance. It is as though the people are wondering if God has forgotten them or deserted them. Can you think of a time when you wondered if God truly noticed you and what you were going through?
    More to Ponder:
    Isaiah 63 begins with a time of remembering - a time of looking back. It is possibly an attempt to answer the question, “How did we get to this place?” There was a time of
    remembering the praises they offer to God, yet now they feel overlooked by God. 
    As you read this statement from Everyday Sanctuary, how might being honest with God about one’s struggles be a sign of faith? Even though Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us some do feel forsaken. How you would encourage one who is struggling to experience that sanctuary of peace and comfort in a difficult situation?

     

    As you journey through this third week of Lent, choose one or more recommendations from the prayer guide to enhance your experience.

  • WEEK 4 LENT

    March 14-20, 2021

    As you journey through this fourth week of Lent, choose one or more
    recommendations from the prayer guide to enhance your experience.
    Honor and majesty are before God.

    Strength and beauty are in God’s

    sanctuary.
    Worship God in holy array. Psalm 96:6, 9a
    Scholars tell us that Psalm 96 was

    written in celebration of the Ark of the

    Covenant’s return to the Temple by King David. It’s hard to imagine the joy they must have experienced having

    something so sacred, something that so  vividly defined who they were as a

    people returned to them!
     

    As we make our way closer and closer to Passion Week and Resurrection Sunday, has there been a moment or an event during this Lenten Season that has brought restoration to your life? Has there been a deepening of gratitude for the refreshment that comes from God’s forgiveness and mercy?
     

    More to Ponder:
    Read 1 Chronicles 15:25-16:36, alongside Psalm 96:1-13. It is said that this sacred chest had been “forgotten” for 20 years before it was finally brought back to the Children of Israel. Last week we were asked to consider what it feels like to feel abandoned by God. How might the lessons and experiences of this Lenten Season help us create within our own lives honor and majesty, strength and beauty?

     

ABOUT US

Gretna United Methodist Church serves the community through spiritual healing as well as impacting lives through small groups. Let us serve you. The office is open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 3pm.

ADDRESS

1309 Whitney Avenue

Gretna, La 70056

(504) 366-6685

GUMP (504) 367-5841

info@gretnaumc.org

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