By ANNE KONCKI
As the Rev. Kevin Shelton of Community United Methodist Church reflected on the season of Lent, he said he realized he likes it more than Advent.
“I think it’s a pretty powerful season for changing lives,” he said.
Most Christian denominations observe Lent as the 40-day period prior to Easter Sunday that Jesus spent fasting in the desert while being tempted by Satan. This past Wednesday, March 9, known as Ash Wednesday to those who recognize the Lenten season, marked the beginning of this period and is usually observed with a mass in which ashes are marked on the foreheads of all attendees.
“The ash represents the tradition of repentance and our mortality,” Shelton said.
The Community United Methodist Church also planned to give out seeds this year to those who attended the 7 p.m. service. The seeds are symbolic of how people grow with spiritual disciplines that come during Lent, Shelton said.
Despite the period of sacrifice and darkness that is usually associated with Lent, Shelton said he sees beauty in it as well.
“The good news is that Jesus’ death has saving power for us,” he said. “God is in solidarity with humanity and experiences the same things as us.”
Although many Christians decide to give something up for Lent as a sign of Jesus’ sacrifice, Shelton said Lent is not limited to giving up; it is a time for taking on as well. His goal for Community United Methodist Church members during the Lenten season is to see more people reaching out to the surrounding community.
“What I hope happens in the season of Lent is that we grow on the inside but also grow on the outside as far as relationships,” Shelton said. “Boy, I would love to see that happen.”
Along with his goals for the church as a whole, Shelton said he sets out personal disciplines for himself during Lent.
“You know, I’ve thought about it for a little bit … I may have to give up Facebook for a little while,” he said. “I need to take a little bit of a break.”
Shelton said he will also be reading early Christian documents as part of his spiritual discipline. He said he likes the Lenten season because it is a time when emotions are high and people can reflect.
“It’s a time when we’re very aware of who we are,” Shelton said.