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What is Lent?

The Lent tradition began in the 3rd and 4th centuries of the early church. The practice derived from the biblical narrative of the people of Israel being tested in the wilderness for 40 years, as well as from Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. The church has adopted this 40-day period as a season of preparation and repentance in anticipation of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter day.

In Lent, we follow Jesus to the cross, and discover more and more what it means to belong together to the crucified and risen One. It is also a season of reflecting on our deep need for the great salvation that Christ purchased for us. Whether you are only beginning to follow Jesus, or have been a Christian for quite some time, we hope these resources and services on our church calendar will help to shape your life around the cross and empty tomb of Christ in fresh ways.

 

Liberti Services and Events

 

Wednesday, March 6th: Ash Wednesday Service | 5:30 p.m. (Childcare Provided)

Saturday, March 9th: Conversational Apologetics Seminar | 9:00 am to noon (Childcare provided). Register here.

Sunday, April 14th: Palm Sunday | Regular Sunday Worship 10:30 a.m.

Friday, April 19th: Holy Week Stations | 3:00-5:30 p.m. (Childcare Provided)     

Liberti Church will offer open hours for opportunity to reflect. We will have multiple stations set up that range from listening to music, to writing, to sitting quietly, to watching someone create live. Our hope is to create an invitational space to slow down and encounter God profoundly in this significant season.

Friday, April 19th: Good Friday Service | 5:30 p.m. (Childcare Provided)

Saturday, April 20th:  Hike at White Rocks Trail | Meet at trailhead 9:00 a.m (Kuhn Rd, Boiling Springs, PA 17007)

This Easter as we mourn the sin of our hearts and the death of Christ and also as we celebrate His depth of love for us and His resurrection, we invite you to join us in a reflective hike as a community to experience this season in a different and powerful way!  We will hike up the trail in quiet reflection, stop at a beautiful overlook where we will read scripture and sing a few hymns, then be free to fellowship and celebrate and continue on the trail or head back down as your time allows. 

Everyone is welcome!  This trail is fairly easy, with a few steep/rocky parts.  For our small children, it is recommended you bring a carrier for those spots!  Also, bring water and snacks for while you’re on the trail.

Sunday, April 21st:   Easter Services | 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

 

Ash Wednesday Service and Explanation of Ashes

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. This year, we invite you to join with us in celebrating Ash Wednesday on Wednesday, March 6th, with a service at 5:30 pm. Childcare is provided.
 
This year we will once again offer the imposition of ashes at our Ash Wednesday service. You by no means must participate, but as it is a historic tradition rich in meaning and symbolism, we wanted to make it available.
 
As you consider participating, we invite you to contemplate how and why we use ashes during this service. Here’s how how it’s framed in the Companion to the Book of Common Worship:
 
The Lenten journey from the ashes of death to resurrected life begins on the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday…This first day of Lent reminds us that unless we are willing to die to our old selves, we cannot be raised to new life with Christ. The first step of this journey calls us to acknowledge and confront our mortality, individually and corporately. In many traditions, this is symbolized through the imposition of ashes — placing a cross on one’s forehead. During the imposition of ashes the words: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) are repeated again and again. We are to remember that we are but temporary creatures, always on the edge of death…
 
Ashes on the forehead is a sign of our humanity and a reminder of our mortality. Lent is not a matter of being good, and wearing ashes is not to show off one’s faith. The ashes are a reminder to us and our communities of our finite creatureliness. The ashes we wear on our Lenten journey symbolize the dust and broken debris of our lives as well as the reality that eventually each of us will die…
 
Trusting in the accomplished fact of Christ’s resurrection, however, we listen for the Word of God…We follow Jesus into the wilderness, resist temptation, fast, and proceed “on the way” to Jerusalem and the cross. Our Lenten journey is one of metanoia (“turning around”), of changing directions from self-serving toward the self-giving way of the cross.
 
Whether you choose to receive the ashes or not that night, we’d love to have you join us to begin this season of Lent with a service steeped in Scripture reading, prayer, and repentance.

 

Campaigns

 

By Name Intiative: 40 days of Prayer

BY NAME is a period of intentional prayer, connection, and sharing the gospel during the Lenten season. This initiative will run from March 6th -April 21st (Easter Sunday). Commit to PRAY every day, BY NAME, for someone that doesn’t know Christ. Make an added effort to CONNECT and spend time with them. As the Holy Spirit gives you opportunity, SHARE the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

Learn more on the By Name website.

 

Global Ministries of Mercy: Water is Basic

As we’ve done in year’s past, Liberti Church will partner across the Liberti Network and with other churches and organizations to provide clean water to the people of South Sudan through Water is Basic.

 

Easter Outreach

 

In our in-covenant class, we talk about being a “mercy people.” Mercy people are those who see the worth of the mercy they’ve received from Jesus and commit to display that same mercy to others in word and deed.

There’s a key line in our in-covenant class materials about how we pursue that as a church. It says: “Most importantly, we spur one another on toward a lifestyle of service and mercy, by keeping each other accountable to dream and act in ways that are a blessing to our neighbors.”

Accountable to dream and act. Admittedly, this is one of the areas we’ve been weakest in as a church. And in part, that’s because to dream and act as a blessing to our neighbors requires a level of ownership. It requires heart-level buy-in. It requires being truly compelled by the mercy of God to make the time and space to bless others. In other words, it requires something more than the church promoting a workday or a service opportunity and taking sign-ups for participants.

So rather than organize a big meal distribution or event in 2019, our focus for Easter Outreach will be to further cultivate this ownership to dream and act as a blessing to our neighbors.

How?

We’ll ask the men, women and children of Liberti Church to use the month of February to dream. How can you bless people? What needs are you aware of in your circles of work, home, school, etc.? Who in your life doesn’t know Jesus, and you’ve been wanting to get some time and conversation with him/her/them, but haven’t yet? If it helps, go back to some of the mercy and justice issues we explored during the month of January and ask God how he might have to get involved.

We want to help you dream and act as a blessing in these ways. So at the end of February, Liberti Church will provide $100 to individuals, families or small pockets of people in our church to put these dreams into action. We’ll ask you to use the $100 sometime during March or early April, and then return with stories celebrating what God has done.

 In 2018, we gave out a total of $2,000 toward these efforts. In 2019, we’re seeking to double that to $4,000. The focus, of course, is not on how much money we can give away, but on people – how we can build relationships with and bless people in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. So to effectively pursue this vision for Easter Outreach we will need to equip, mobilize, and celebrate.

Equip:

If this is brand new to you, we realize that money has probably not been the main obstacle to you blessing others the past. It may be time. Or fear. Or apathy. Or simply not knowing how or where to begin.

We want to help equip you for this. How can you do “lifestyle” outreach and evangelism? How can you live in a way that is a blessing to people you cross paths with? How can you live with your eyes open to opportunities that are always in front of you?

This year, we’re hosting a seminar on “Conversational Apologetics” on March 9th from 9-noon. The aim of this seminar will be to help you begin to think of ways to relationally and conversationally share the hope you have in Jesus. 

 In addition, we’ll provide a number of ideas on a “starter list” which you can read more about below…

 Mobilize:

During the months of March and April, we’ll scatter to put these dreams into action. We recognize something like this comes naturally to some and not naturally at all to others. So we’re offering the following “starter list” of ideas to help get you dreaming.

The goal of this list isn’t to limit you, but to help you see the kinds of things we’re after. The goal is more about you connecting with people than it is about you funding a charitable organization. So the point isn’t to just give $100 away. It’s to involve yourself creatively in the process of blessing other people.

Starter List:

    • Host a Meal. Use the $100 to bless people with generous hospitality – good food, good beverages – creating a welcoming atmosphere.
    • Throw a Block Party/Easter Egg Hunt. Fire up the grill, get some lawn games out and meet people on your street. Host a party or Easter egg hunt for neighborhood or co-workers’ kids.
    • Befriend and Bless a Refugee Family. Use your $100 to help a refugee family acquire furniture or groceries or clothes – something they need to continue the process of acclimation. Or, if their needs seem to be met, treat them to a fun American or Central PA experience.
    • Bless the Residents of a Retirement Center/Nursing Home. Many retirement centers and nursing homes have programs, but very limited funds. So befriend the residents there and use your $100 to provide snacks, gifts, materials for crafts, or prizes at a bingo store.
    • Organize a Workday. Offer your time and energy to help someone in your neighborhood who needs help with house or yard projects and use your $100 to buy supplies to make it happen.
    • Deepen your Involvement with a Current Service Opportunity. Many of you already serve with a local organization. Is there a way your $100 could deepen your relationships with either those you serve or those you labor alongside? You don’t have to start a brand new effort in order to participate in Easter Outreach.

 A few people from our diaconate and local mercy team have volunteered to help coordinate our efforts this year and help you think through these and other ideas you might have. So when you’re ready to request your funds or if you’d like help brainstorming, contact one of the people below:

Celebrate:

A key part of really capturing the joy of this kind of living will be to share stories and celebrate what God has done. Our hope is that this only encourages more of these pursuits throughout the year and helps make this kind of dreaming and acting a normal part of following Jesus together.

Beginning Easter Sunday and continuing throughout most of May, we’ll set some time aside in each of our worship services for men, women and children from Liberti to share stories of what they experienced.  Specifically: What did you try? How did it go? What did you learn? How did it help cultivate a deeper love for your neighbors? How can you envision continuing on in relationship from here?

 A Spark: Not a Service Project

One final word: our hope is that this year’s Easter Outreach will continue to create the kind of church culture we long for, where blessing others in the name of Jesus becomes the norm and not an exceptional initiative once a year.

 

Lent and the Observing of Spiritual Disciplines

 

As a season focused on repentance and remembering our mortality, Lent drives us to Jesus. It reminds us of both our dependence and the union we have with Him by faith in His work on the cross. The aim of Lent, therefore is that this Gospel of the person and work of Christ would work its way deeper into our hearts, minds, and lives.

In light of this, Lent becomes an ideal time in the Christian year to focus on spiritual disciplines. As Nathan Foster puts it in The Making of an Ordinary Saint, “The concept of the spiritual disciplines is really quite simple: we do the practices that Jesus did. Over time these practices become habitual, thus enabling us to respond to life in a way more like Jesus would if he were to live our life.

This year, as we highlight various spiritual disciplines, we hope these prove to be a helpful and contemplative aid to your personal and communal worship, reminding you of both your need for Christ’s death and resurrection, and your confident hope that all the benefits of His work are yours as you are united with Him.

The Twelve Disciplines:

•Submission: The practice of freeing ourselves to submit to God, instead of clenching so tightly to what we want.
Fasting: Gaining control over an aspect in our lives that has been left unchecked by our hearts. By depriving ourselves, we are putting our faith in God alone.
•Study: Gaining more information is not what we lack as a society. Taking the time to soak in Truth, that is the discipline. Slowing down and truly studying God’s Word is what this discipline is about.
Solitude: We live in a crowded world. Solitude is hard to find, and to be honest, we avoid it. To be alone means we have to look at ourselves. We are scared of what we will find. But this is exactly where we are able to be still and know God.
Meditation: “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is, because we do not warm ourselves at the fires of meditation.” (Thomas Watson) This discipline is the bridge between reading God‘s Word and understanding it.
Confession: Our regrets will consume us if we do not confess them. We cannot be silent before God without having first letting go of our sins.
Simplicity: Simplicity is not about doing without worldly goods, but it’s about being content. Foster writes in his book, “We can only genuinely enjoy possessions without them destroying us when we are free to let them go and free to receive them.”
•Service: Jesus is our Servant King. Service doesn’t just include the obvious responses like volunteer work, but it is a conscious consistent death to self. Putting our desire to be first away.
Prayer: Instead of bringing God your laundry list, try instead to create movements in your prayer: awe, worship, thankfulness, and then petition.
Guidance: This is the moving from acquaintanceship with God to friendship. Allowing His voice to be familiar and seeking the quality of His words for true guidance.
Worship: This discipline is a response. Because of who God is, we respond in worship. This can take on many different forms. It is our spontaneous reply to a deep, soul-satisfying love!
Celebration: This should be the culmination of all the spiritual disciplines working in our lives. Joy unspeakable! This one also needs practicing, though, because we are really good at sabotaging good things. God doesn’t want us to allow bitterness to win the day. Give yourself permission to celebrate!

 

Resources

Liberti Church Lent Guide 2019: Click here!

Further Reading on Lent: 
Keeping a Holy Lent by Craig Higgins
Lenten Lights by Noel Piper
Journey to the Cross by Will Walker and Kendal Haug  

Further Reading on the Spiritual Disciplines:

The Making of an Ordinary Saint | Nathan Foster

Celebration of Discipline | Richard Foster

The Spirit of the Disciplines | Dallas Willard

The Relational Soul | Richard Plass & James Cofield

Liberti Church Lent Playlist on Spotify 

This year we’ve added a new resource to help us in our reflection and contemplation: a collection of songs specifically designed for Lent. Whether you listen along on your workday commute or have it playing as background music while you go about your day, these songs can help create an atmosphere conducive to prayerful meditation. Head on over to our Spotify account (libertiharrisburg) to find this new line-up of songs or click here for more information.