02/17/2021: On Ashes, Grief, and New Life

Dear LAC,
Today is Ash Wednesday, a time when we mark the beginning of the season of Lent. Our liturgical calendar blocks out these forty days before Easter to parallel Christ’s time in the wilderness. Traditionally, Lent is a season of repentance, of starting over. A time of nurturing the parts of ourselves that are works in progress, of churning the soil and making space for our spiritual roots to grow deeper in faith. It’s a time of quieting our hearts to listen for God’s voice speaking to us once more and opening ourselves to follow God in a new (or perhaps familiar) direction. For some, this means trying out a new spiritual discipline like meditation, and for others, this could be a time of cultivating gratitude and connection with loved ones through more regular check-ins or a practice of writing letters.
On Ash Wednesday, we orient ourselves towards Christ’s journey to the cross by reflecting on our own mortality. This year, however, we don’t need a reminder that we are fragile nor of the preciousness of life. We face our finitude every time we don a mask to exit our homes, or internally debate the risk of hugging a friend outside our “bubble.” We are more aware than ever that we rely on God and on one another for support.
In past years, LAC has gathered for a simple meal and a service with the imposition of ashes. This year we will not gather for a service, though our denominational leaders have created a video for those who would enjoy time to reflect with scripture and music. Instead, we invite you to reflect on what has become “ash” in your life in the wake of the pandemic. As we approach the one-year mark, let us make space to grieve for the cancelled plans, the lost jobs and the security of “normal,” the rites of passage from graduations to proms that felt different over Zoom, the time we hoped to spend with our families and friends, and of course, the deaths of loved ones within our community.
This year, we do not anoint ourselves with ashes, but instead name our loss, and take comfort that our God does not abandon us in our suffering, but draws near to us with compassion. Our scripture tells us that God breathed life into dust at our creation, and the Spirit of God can spark life from what looks dead and dormant. Our faith takes root in the impossible good news of Christ’s death and resurrection. What wonders will God work from our ashes? Where will we experience new life? As the days lengthen, and the snow slowly melts, may you feel the Holy One stirring in you, watering seeds of hope with unending grace.
Marranda Major
Church Secretary & Communication Coordinator

Journeying Together Through Lent


Have you noticed that recent bulletins have included the Lord’s Prayer in both English and Spanish? During Lent, we will explore the theme “praying in the language of our hearts.” We will focus on heart-felt and Spirit-led sharing during the Prayers of the People, and we will feature folks sharing the Lord’s Prayer in their native tongue as a way of honoring the diversity within our community. If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact the office to learn how you may get involved!

Stories from the Wilderness:

a Lenten Bible Study

On February 28th, March 7th, 14th, 21st at 1:30 p.m., LAC will hold an intergenerational Bible study via Zoom. Inspired by a question from LAC high schoolers (“What is this doing in the Bible?”), we will look at four Biblical characters and their experiences in the wilderness as we journey through Lent and walk alongside Jesus during his wilderness experience. Curious to learn more? Contact Ekama Eni at eeni@lacny.org or (914)834-1800 (ext. 306).