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Lenten series connects Christians of all kinds and ages

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Catherine W. Idzerda
January 28, 2008
— Lent.

Even the word sounds heavy, like an onerous chore.


But First Congregational United Church of Christ in Janesville will use the Lenten season to create community within congregations, deepen their prayer lives and have some fun.


For the six Wednesdays of Lent, First Congregational is hosting a Lenten educational series designed for children and adults together. Christians from all denominations are invited.


The evening will start at 6 p.m. with a meal, followed with a short lesson, discussion and then some kind of craft project or activity.


“On the first night, we’ll turn to our neighbor and talk about ‘what is Lent about anyway,’ and what’s been our experience of Lent, ” said the Rev. Wes Bixby, of First Congregational.


Other discussions include responding to the world as people of faith and Christian prayer life.


After each discussion, the group—adults included—will do a small craft. Adults and children will be encouraged to work together.


“I think there is something tactile about doing crafts—and doing them along side a child—that awakens that part of us within us,” Bixby said.


Often, that slight loosening of adult constraint can help people have more thoughtful conversations with each other.


More importantly, having an intergenerational event can create a closer church community.


“For children, the adults are their faith role models; for adults, this is part of living out our baptismal vows,” Bixby said.


Then, when children see those adults on Sunday, “they know that’s Mr. Smith,” and the adult can greet the child by name.


The whole program, including the dinner, will last a little over an hour.


“We made the program intentionally brief because we didn’t want it to become a burden,” Bixby said.


Each session is self-contained, so participants can go to as many or as few as they like.


The church already has invited members of First Christian Church and Asbury United Methodist to participate in the program, and members of other congregations also are invited.


“We live in a world with a lot of divisiveness, but we really do have a lot in common with each other,” Bixby said. “This is an opportunity to live that out.”


Churches join forces for services

Traditionally, six churches in Janesville join for services and programs during Lent.


This year is no different.


First Presbyterian, First Congregational, First Baptist, First Christian, Asbury United Methodist and Faith Lutheran will hold a variety of services together. Members of all area churches are invited to join them.


-- At 7 p.m. Ash Wednesday, Feb. 6, the Rev. Bruce Jones of the First Presbyterian Church will preach at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 54 S. Jackson St., Janesville.


Jones will preach about the “Three R’s of Lent: Realization, Repentance and Reconciliation.”


-- On the five Wednesdays of Lent, First Presbyterian, 17 N. Jackson St., will hold a 12:15 p.m. service followed by a soup lunch. The event is designed so working people can get to the service and back to their jobs in about an hour.


-- At 5:45 p.m. on the Wednesdays in Lent, Faith Lutheran, 2116 Mineral Point Ave., Janesville, will host a soup supper followed by a service at 6:30 p.m.


-- During Holy Week, First Presbyterian will host the Maundy Thursday service. The First Christian drama ministry will provide the message.


-- On Good Friday, First Christian Church, 1901 Highland Ave., Janesville, will host 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. services. First Baptist drama ministry will provide the message.


An Easter “Sonrise” service will be held at 7 a.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church, 1810 Kellogg Ave., Janesville.


Other churches are offering educational programs for Lent and a variety of opportunities to participate in the Stations of the Cross.


A few choices include:


-- St. John Vianney, 1245 Clark St., “Connection to the Cross: A Lenten Journey,” a small-group series focused on the Sunday readings. It’s designed to make connections between your daily lives and the experience of communal worship. 6:30-8 p.m., Wednesdays, Jan. 31, to March 6. For locations or information about either program, contact the parish office at (608) 752-8708 or go to www. sjv.org.


-- Trinity Episcopal Church, 309 E. Court St., Janesville, is holding a Lenten day of silence and reflection from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.


Katharine and Ken Jacobson will lead the retreat that features mediations, silent times for reflections and times for sharing around the theme of “The Promise, Trial, and Fulfillment of Love.”


The Jacobsons most recently served as interim director of Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center.


The public is invited to the event, which is being described as a “Quiet Day.” Registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 8. Phone the church at (608) 754-3402 to register. A donation will be taken for lunch.


Participants may want to bring their own Bibles.


If you go
What: Intergenerational education program for Lent.
When: 6 p.m. Wednesdays during Lent, starting with Feb. 13.
Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ, 54 South Jackson St., Janesville
Cost: Free. The program is open to the public.
For more information or to register: (608) 752-8716. The deadline for registration is Feb. 4.

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