January 28, 2016
For centuries the followers of Jesus set aside 40 days to prepare for Easter. They changed their diets and their daily rhythms to get their bodies in order. They mended fences and broken relationships to make their communities more whole. They examined their lives and their loves to help their spirits to heal—all in effort to see what was working and what needed to change. In the period called Lent, named for the season’s lengthening days, they practiced resurrection.
Caroline and Cristina and I were thinking about that in December as we planned the Spring programming. “Let’s do more this year than invite the congregation to give up chocolate!” one of them said. “What about a ‘Hands on Lent’ that encourages us to get to know each other and the community in a new way? What if we talk to some of our partners in the city and create opportunities for service? What if in addition to reflecting together, we do something—with our neighbors, in an organized way?” We didn’t have words for it then, but we were imagining a way to practice resurrection.
So I called up our friends at Paul’s Place, on Baltimore’s west side, and met with their volunteer coordinator Jayna Powell. Paul’s Place provides a warm meal, job counseling, children’s programs, a clothes closet, and much more to the residents of Pigtown, and Jayna has created a variety of opportunities for Redeemer parishioners to put their toe in this Lent. For those who can volunteer during the week, there’s a chance to work in the dining room or their “marketplace.” For individuals and families who have time on the weekends, there are casseroles to be cooked and snack bags to assemble. Toiletry kits can be assembled from all the little bottles you’ve collected at hotels. We are even planning a walk through the neighborhood one weekend afternoon, joining an exercise group from Paul’s Place, to get our bodies involved in the effort! Jayna will join us after church on February 7 to orient us and explain the possibilities ahead. Look for a schedule of events and sign-up sheets by the bulletin boards.
This Lent we also resume our work with Habitat for Humanity, Chesapeake chapter. Beginning with a groundbreaking on Saturday, February 13, Redeemer will join forces with several partners on the McCabe Avenue project in Govans. Workdays will be on alternate Saturdays through May and you must be 16 years old to participate. Whatever your skill level, helping to construct a Habitat house is an incredible way to get your hands and heart engaged. If you are interested, please contact Barbara Fegley or Pete Partridge. And if working on the house is not for you, consider preparing lunch for the work crew. You and your family can sign up for a given day, prepare the meal for the workers, bring it to the worksite, and everyone can eat together.
Finally, our Caring for Creation committee is looking for parishioners to trim invasive ivy and other vines from trees, either on our campus or in your own backyards.
Each of these opportunities to take part in “Hands on Lent” is a step toward building our community one heart at a time. Poet Wendell Barry said it this way:
… So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it…