Lenten altar at Gentle Spirit Christian Church

Lent 2020 Pastoral Call to Repent, Reflect and Resolve to Act

Our Lenten Journey

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.

We have taught to use this time to repent (turn back to God), reflect about our individual relationship with God and resolve to act on the discoveries made in that time of repentance and reflection.

In past years I have tried to give a specific theme or topic for us to concentrate on during those 40 days. However, this year the discernment is to simply encourage you during the 40 days of Lent in your own way and time each day to set aside 20 minutes each day to read scripture, pray, repent (turn back to God), and reflect on your relationship with God.

Here are instructions for fasting, and here are the daily readings, worship schedule and worship topics for the season.

Lent culminates on Good Friday, as we are called to fast from Friday sundown til Easter Sunrise.

You may be asking – why do we encourage an annual fast at our church? The first time we did it was 13 years ago. We were experiencing many challenges and wondered what direction our ministry/church should take. We were in debt and we knew we were not welcome anymore at the church we were at. We prayed and were led to several answers over the last 13 years:

1. Go into the park and have morning services
2. Look for another place to have our church office and successfully accomplishing that.
3. Trust God for the finances to keep going.
4. Be open to what God would send to us
5. Began the effort to meet the “needs” of the community rather than try and “fix” the community.
6. We began preparing and distributing Hygiene Kits (more than 9,000 completed Kits in 6 years).
7. Reformatted our worship time to be more inclusive and welcoming.
8. Developed an incredible network in the Community that allows us to meet the needs of those who connect with us.
9. Working on becoming a Community Fellowship rather than an institutional Church.
10. Stepped forward  with fear and trepidation but rock solid faith and re-launch “Whosover Webzine.”

All these things have happened by God’s grace. So we spend the day on personal prayer and fasting encouraging all to seek God’s direction in their lives.

God has answered clearly and has been by our side in a journey which caused us to become the “Church without Walls”. We have become a group of faith people which stresses a relationship and love for God and each other (as opposed to stressing doctrine and rules).

Throughout these past 13 years we have continued to pray for our church and its direction…how to better do the work God has laid out for us.

We have had significant growth in outreach to the community and to our folks. The miracle stories seem to happen at a dizzying pace. We will celebrate our 22nd anniversary on March 15th and as we celebrate our past and present, we will look to our future.

As, God’s Spirit once again calls for us to spend a day of “Fasting and Prayer”. I encourage all of you consider joining with Alyce and myself at the park on April 11th to pray and fast. It is only with your support that we have become a church that is affirming, inclusive and progressive in our ministry and it is only with your help and prayer that it can continue. Please consider joining us (either in person at a location of your choosing or with us at the park).

Here are the details of our time of prayer and fasting: If you have small children don’t let that stop you from participating, let us know you intend to be there and we will get child care for the main part of the fast and prayer on Saturday. If you have a signed “Covenant” with the church I appeal to you to participate in this sacred and holy time of reflection and seeking God’s direction for this fellowship.

Church Fast

Individually we will be encouraging you all to focus on:
1) What can each of us do to continue the work of this church?
2) What can each of us do to support the vision and mission of GSCC?
3) What do we did to do as individuals to proclaim and act on our core beliefs.
4) Am I a doers or follower?

Collectively we will be praying and seeking God’s guidance in the following areas:
1) Our expanding ministry on the Internet – how much should we take advantage of?
2) How can we continue our Hygiene Kit ministry?
3) Grant research – as we seek to minister to the homeless and others, we are in pursuit of grants to help us continue serving those in need. We seek prayer here for guidance from God as to the direction and which grants to go for.
4) What does the “Church Without Walls” look like? Feel like? Act like?

In times of searching we have examples in the Bible of others calling for prayer and fasting to set themselves aside for God and to determine God’s leading. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying. Jesus set himself aside to better/more clearly hear God speak and direct Jesus in all that he needed to do. We are no different in this church. We too seek God’s direction and wisdom to clearly speak to us.

Easter weekend we put ourselves aside and concentrate on God, to allow God to speak with each of us and to all of us as a church.

Saturday events:
9:00 – 9:45 am: Praising God in Song – Centering ourselves and focusing on God
9:45 – 10:00 am: Direction for individual prayer time
10:00 – 11:00 am: Individual prayer/meditation – concentrating on your needs
11:00 – 11:30 am: Time of sharing over juice/water – a type of break
11:30 – noon: Presentation of prayer items about church – details so that we all can pray about our church issues
Noon – 12:30 pm: Individual Prayer for the church
12:30 – 1:00 pm: Brainstorm on the church questions– sharing how God spoke to you
1:00 – 1:15 pm: Time of sharing over juice/ water – a type of break
1:15pm – 1:30 pm: Group Prayer time
1:30 – 2:00 pm: Sharing

God Bless,
Pastor Paul

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at https://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.