“Lenten Journey: God’s Promises”
“In the bulb, there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”
These words are from the first verse of on my favorite hymns, written by Natalie Sleeth in 1986. In our New Century Hymnal, the first line is used as the hymn title, so we call this “In the Bulb, There is a Flower,” but the name Sleeth gave to this song is “Hymn of Promise.”
This year during the season of Lent, our theme will be “God’s Promises.” As we did during Advent, we will use the Worship at Home resource by Revs. Mary Scifres and B.J. Beu, which for Lent is subtitled A Season of Promise. The lectionary Scriptures through this season offer us reminders of God’s promises—a rainbow to Noah, the birth of a child for Sarah and Abraham, and a covenant made to people in exile delivered by Jeremiah, among others. Our Scriptures are full of stories of God making and fulfilling promises, examples that can give us hope during difficult times.
But our Scriptures also include the honest cries of those who feel forgotten or forsaken by God. Like the bulb, seed and cocoon in Sleeth’s song, sometimes God’s promises are not immediately apparent, and we wonder if they will ever be fulfilled. The Lenten devotional guide from the UCC’s Stillspeaking Writers Group, which we will share daily on Facebook and Instagram as we did during Advent, addresses the authentic struggles of faith with their booklet entitled “Promises, Promises.” In the introduction, they acknowledge the ways we have been burned by empty promises from politicians, lovers, and perhaps even God. They invite us to “bring [our] cynicism and [our] scars” on this Lenten journey, but also encourage us to bring “that little bit of hope you still have for a God who won’t let you down.”
As a companion to our Lenten worship, we are also offering a resource we’re calling “Lent at Home” boxes this year. You can read more about them in the article from our Board of Christian Education. It’s our hope that many of you will sign up for a box, and that the crafts, activities and prayers in them help us all deepen our connection to each other and to God during this holy season.
Wherever we find ourselves—hopeful, hopeless, or somewhere in between—our Scriptures remind us that we can express all of it to God. The Psalms contain expressions of confidence in God’s providence as well as doubt that God will answer. And, we can share honestly with each other. Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth reminds us that we are all members of one body, and when one suffers, every part suffers with it; when one part rejoices, every part rejoices with it. That is part of what we covenant to do when we become part of Christ’s church, and God covenants with us to love and guide us along our way. May this Lenten season offer us opportunities to draw closer to one another and to God, as we explore together God’s promises.
Pastor Mary Sue