Join us for the Season of Lent at St John’s as we undertake a spiritual journey. Our worship series, “Gifts of the Dark Woods” focuses on those dark wood moments in our lives that are filled with uncertainty, failure, emptiness, lost-ness, temptation and so many other challenges.

And yet, there are gifts to be found if we embrace them. We are not going to talk about just how to get out of it, as if life is good only when we are not there. What if times of uncertainty, failure, or emptiness are opportunities for spiritual awakening … Uncertainty can help us let go of our fear of the unknown.  Emptiness can leave room for new possibilities.  Thunderstruck moments can offer insight. Getting lost invites us to heighten our awareness. Temptation can help us know our true path. And reaching out to other “misfits” on the journey enriches our experience of life and love.

And through it all, God is with us.

Lent is a time of our worship year that evokes journey. It draws us into an introspective stance where growth happens. Worship at St. John’s in February and March is an opportunity to bring this experience of depth to your own spiritual journey.

There’s a path… though it winds its way through darkness
We would choose… to avoid it if we could
We awake… to an unexpected calling
God says, “come… there are gifts in the Dark Wood”

Lent 1 February 14 “The Gift of Uncertainty”

Today we begin a journey in this season of Lent. Our worship series, “Gifts of the Dark Woods” is about “seeing life through new eyes.” When we allow ourselves to accept the journey within the Dark Woods, the Holy Spirit Guide tends to nudge us, awaken us, to a fuller life. But life is messy. Life is uncertain. Rather than a problem to be solved, what is we saw uncertainty, failure, emptiness, and loss as gifts? What if we saw how these uncomfortable times can actually help us let go of all we cannot know so that we can live more wholeheartedly?

Lent 2 February 21 “The Gift of Emptiness”

Our journey through the Dark Wood invites us to the gift of emptiness. Many of us sometime feel empty inside and we fear that there is nothing there of worth. But what if we let go of our obsession with worthiness and released into the idea that if we want to be filled–to find God–getting empty is the best way. God will find us! In our journey this Lent toward the Cross, we know even Jesus felt empty despair… and it was at this moment that God’s possibility of life beyond that pain was revealed.

Lent 3 February 28 “The Gift of Being Thunder-struck”

Ancient civilizations and religions all metaphorically describe the voice of the divine coming through thunder and lightning. We often describe experiences of insight as a “sudden flash,” “seeing the light” or “rocked my world.” Storms of life can make way for moments of insight, like the sun radiating in a clearing in the woods that can offer us direction, helping us to negotiate life’s path and see our unique place in the world. Our Lenten journey of discernment and introspection invites us to open our senses to be “thunder-struck” by rays of sunshine that peak through in the midst of the clouds.

Lent 4 March 6 “The Gift of Getting Lost”

The path of life is rarely clear or straight-forward. We find ourselves lost in the Dark Woods, unclear which direction to go, perhaps having strayed from the path we thought we were on. It is at these times that the gift of getting lost is that we begin to pay more attention than we usually do. Perhaps we are looking for blatant signs when the subtle nudges of Spirit are already right there. Our Lent journey invites us to get quiet and open wide our senses.

Lent 5 March 13 “The Gift of Temptation”

The gift of temptation may bring images of resisting evil–sometimes in seriously dangerous form or as seemingly benign as the pastry in front of you. But instead, the temptation for this week is following the “shoulds” dictated only by logic, outside expectation or shiny “rewards” instead of following the path our intuition and imagination suggest is right for us–the path that helps us bring the best of our energy and joy to the world. Our Lent journey invites us to face the temptations that erode our fullness and steal us away from our wholeheartedness.

Lent 6 March 20 “The Gift of Misfits”

As our exploration of the Gifts of the Dark Woods begins to come to a close, we look around us to acknowledge the kin-dom–the family–that has always and is already right here with us. Sojourners in the Dark Woods do not go it alone but are blessed with the presence of others who help us see, reflect with us and discover together with us the riches of a life lived with intention. As Jesus comes into Jerusalem at the beginning of that fateful week, he is surrounded by those who will live the uncertainty, temptation and emptiness right alongside him.