We quickly approach the season of Lent (it begins on Wednesday 02.22.2023). This season calls for followers of Jesus Christ to spend time in repentance and fasting. We focus on our relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending ourselves. During this season which precedes Resurrection (Easter) Sunday, we have had a tradition at Bethany UMC of placing an old rugged cross in our sanctuary. Throughout the season, we pin our petitions to the cross. We write our prayers on slips of paper, fold them over and pin them and leave them on the cross. This is a tangible reminder of how we give our prayer concerns over to God. On Easter Sunday, the petitions are gone! They are replaced with a display of butterflies, a reminder of the way Christ transforms us.
I (Elizabeth Whiting) do not know how long this has been our practice, but I know it’s been around since I was a young person in the church. Perhaps another member will read this and know more about the origins. I recall loving the way the butterflies looked on Easter Sunday. Between the butterflies and the display of fresh flowers, the smell & colors & music of the sanctuary were brilliant & awe-inspiring after so many weeks of seeing the cross fill to overflowing with our prayer petitions. Easter Sunday is transformational!
The Old Rugged Cross is a visual display of that transformation that has become an important tradition to the people of Bethany UMC.
While I am not sure exactly when this practice of an Old Rugged Cross began, I was delighted to see this piece of its history from Bryan Boyse. On the left is a photo of Bryan’s father & grandfather & another unknown parishioner building the cross. We believe this picture to be from when this cross was originally constructed. The date on the photo is 1989. On the right, is a photo of the same cross after it was erected in our sanctuary after worship this morning.
Walking through the season of Lent with other believers draws you nearer to God and makes Easter Sunday worship feel all the more meaningful and transformational. Our worship theme this Lent is “Seeking”. As a congregation we will engage in a spiritual practice of seeking. We will be asking holy questions and seeking holy answers. As a cooperative parish, we are seeking our calling. Individually, after the last sermon series, many of us are in a season of discernment about our spiritual gifts and how they can be deployed into the Kingdom of God. I hope you will join us this Lent and ask yourself, what am I seeking? What is God seeking?
We’ll have many opportunities to engage deeper faith through Bible readings & devotional books, small group studies, prayer, music & worship. Find the place where you fit into this Body of Christ. Come seeking during Lent!