The Journey through Lent
11–16 March, after the First Sunday in Lent. The wilderness: the start of the journey. Romans 10:5-15, Luke 4:1-13
18–23 March, after the Second Sunday in Lent. The first signpost: images of power, images of vulnerability. Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35
25–30 March, after the Third Sunday in Lent. The second signpost: deep transformation. Isaiah 55:1-9, Luke 13:1-9
1-6 April, after the Fourth Sunday in Lent. The third signpost: lost and found. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
8-13 April, after the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Are we there yet? Continuing the journey. Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:8-14, John 12:1-8
15-20 April, after the Sixth Sunday in Lent. The ominous cloud: silence, or shouting? Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29, Luke 19:28-40
You can listen to the services or read the transcript of John’s sermons through lent from this link
Easter Holy Week
A message from Rev Dr John Squires
Each year, in the Southern Hemisphere season of autumn, we celebrate Easter. We hear again the story of “the first Easter”; a story that is richly packed, full of many elements, each of which merit focussed attention and deeper reflection.
Typically, we have a week filled to overflowing with a richness of so many parts of the story … the entry into Jerusalem … Jesus disputing with the religious authorities in the temple precincts … a shared meal with close followers … a quiet time of reflection in the garden … shattered by the arrest of Jesus … a series of hearings before Jewish and then Roman authorities … sentencing to death … the road to the scene where crucifixions took pace … Jesus, dead on the cross, buried in the grave … and then the rush of events on the third day: the empty tomb, the response of the women, the instructions to return to the gathered disciples, the disbelief of the male disciples, the road to Emmaus later that day, the upper room in Jerusalem that evening.
All of this, in just eight days!! It is a whirlwind of events, one after the other. The story is full, rich, complex, with many characters, swift plot movement, and multiple places of deepened significance. But we pack it all into a couple of services, into just one week, and race through it, in order to complete the story.
So, I wonder what difference it would make, if we took each element in the story and lingered over it … not rushing headlong to the climactic moment, but pausing over each step along the way … letting each phase in the story have its moment with us.
That is what is being offered, here at Queanbeyan, during the week that leads from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
We will meet, of course, on Palm Sunday, and remember the events of that day: the waving of branches, the shouts of the crowd,
Each evening throughout the week we call Holy Week, there is an opportunity to gather, to pause, to focus on a part of that whole, rich, complex story. We will sit alongside various characters in the story, to ponder what is taking place, to enter into the significance of the sequence of events as they unfold.
And over the weekend of Easter, we will have a number of opportunities to pause and focus on some key moments in the story: the last meal of Jesus on Thursday evening; the abandonment of Jesus on the cross on Friday morning; the silence of the in-between, not-knowing, time, with the trauma of the past and the fear of the future sitting side-by-side, on Saturday evening; and the unexpected, hoped-for yet not really believed, moment of the discovery of the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning.
There is a tendency, across the church, to charge headlong from the excitement of Palm Sunday, to the deeper excitement and more profound joy of Easter Sunday, touching only briefly on what sits in between.
This year, I encourage you—indeed, I challenge you—to pause at some, or perhaps even many, of the moments along the way, during the journey from the waving of palms on Palm Sunday, to the dumbfounded moment of discovery, in the empty tomb, on Easter Sunday … and to the startling, exhilarating, thrilling moments of encounter, as the risen Jesus meets with his followers … on the road to Emmaus, in the upper room in Jerusalem, beside the Sea of Galilee, or on top of the mountain in Galilee.
I look forward to sharing with you in some or many (or all) of these opportunities to engage with the story of Holy Week, to be deepened in our faith and enriched in our discipleship.
Holy Week Evening Services
- Palm Sunday, 14th April, at 9:30am. The ominous cloud: silence, or shouting?
- Monday 15th April, reflective service in the Chapel from 7:00 – 7:30pm
- Tuesday 16th April, reflective service in the Chapel from 7:00 – 7:30pm
- Wednesday 17th April, reflective service in the Chapel from 7:00 – 7:30pm
- Maundy Thursday, 18th March, in the new church from 7:00pm, we share a meal and remember the last supper Jesus shared with his disciples. Please bring a plate to share.
- Good Friday morning, 19 April, at 9:00am, to reflect on the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus
- Easter Saturday evening, 20 April, at 7:00pm, the in-between space of waiting in uncertainty, hoping against hope
- Easter Sunday morning, 21 April, at 9:30am, a joy-filled celebration of new life, an empty tomb, and life forever changed. Please stay for morning tea following the service.
A note from John – LENT
Our lives are lived in a regular cycle of seasons. The heat of summer gives way to the coolness of autumn, then to the cold of winter, before the warmth of spring rejuvenates and refreshes, and we find ourselves back in the baking heat of summer, once more.
And so, too, does the Christian year move between seasons, following an ancient pattern which was shaped to provide a focus on the central story of our faith—the story of Jesus Christ. Each December, in the season of Advent, we prepare to celebrate his birth. That occurs in the season of Christmas (which has largely been taken over by commercial interests) and the ensuing season of Epiphany.
In the northern hemisphere, where this cycle originated, the days at this time of year start to lengthen, and that process gave the name of the next season: Lent. It comes from the Old English word lencten, which was the old way that the season of spring was named. In the church, a period of forty days was set aside to provide a period of preparation, before the following season of Easter, celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then follows Pentecost, a longer season focussed on growth, before Advent comes around again.
This ancient pattern offers us an annual opportunity to pause, reflect, and recommit our lives of discipleship and service. For myself, I do not see this as an archaic custom which we can readily abandon; rather, I view Lent as a time for regrouping and rebuilding my walk of faith. In this hemisphere, the days are not lengthening (in fact, the daylight hours are becoming shorter)—but the opportunity to pause, reflect, and recommit, is still valid.
Each year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This year, that will fall on 6 March. It will run until Good Friday, which this year is on 19 April, and lead into the celebrations of Easter Sunday, on 21 April.
How will you spend this season of Lent? Many of the regular activities of life will still need to be attended to: shopping, cleaning, working, travelling, preparing meals, gathering with family, visiting friends, reading, gardening, listening to music … and a host of other things that fill the regular pattern of our lives, day by day, week by week.
So, the challenge that sits before us at this time of the year, is this: how, and when, will I find time to dedicate to nurturing my spiritual life, to strengthening my life of discipleship? In the midst of all the regular activities, a special focus on this area of life would be beneficial to each of us.
There may be something that you could do, personally, for yourself, during this coming period of Lent. As a person within this community of faith, you will also have the opportunity to join with others, in a time each week when we read scripture together, discuss what we have read, and pray together for our own lives and the life of the Queanbeyan Uniting Church.
We will use study material that invites us to a Wilderness Journey over the six weeks of Lent. The biblical passages will also be the focus in our Sunday morning worship services (at top of this page).
Rev Dr John Squires
QUC Intentional Interim Minister
If you would like to work through the Lent Study at home you can download a copy from this link.