Holden Evening Prayer Service at Easter Lutheran

Last night, I attended the Wednesday Lenten evening prayer service at Easter Lutheran Church (“on the Hill” location). The music we sang is called the Holden Evening Prayer, music written by composer Marty Haugen. (The name comes from Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State, where Marty Haugen was musician-in-residence when he composed the music.)  

If you have never tried this Lenten tradition at Easter, I highly recommend it.  The candles were lovely in the dark winter night, the music was soothing, and the short message by the pastor was inspiring–a great boost for the middle of the work week. If you are not much of a singer, don’t worry–I’m pretty sure a bunch of choir people were in the congregation, and they carried the song well. I’m convinced even if you just sit and listen, your soul will soak up the beauty of prayer.

Want to hear a sample?  Here’s one of many clips from YouTube of the Holden Evening Prayer. This one was filmed at University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany (ELCA) in St. Cloud, MN (with a child singing one of the leads!):  

After the service last night, I felt so relaxed. That’s the kind of music it was–very consoling and calming. 

Whatever you do this Lent, keep on prayin’

About the writer: Julie McCarty is a freelance writer and spiritual director who attends Easter Lutheran. She also blogs at Spiritual Drawing Board, www.spiritualdrawingboard.com .

Transformation: Learning from Worms during Lent

[Editor’s note: Lent is a word that means “springtime,” the season when the trees and plants around us–which seem to be dead–come back to life again. Below is a Lenten reflection written by Pastor Sarah Clark last year. Her words remind us that God desires to transform all that is sinful, weak or “dead” within us into something better, new, transformed. —JM]

Jesus will take our weak mortal bodies and transform them into glorious bodies like his own… -Philippians 3: 21

I like to tell people that I got worms for my birthday…. because it’s true. I did, just not the gross kind of worms! My husband Brian gave me composting worms for my birthday – a 37 gallon bin of dark dirt and many hundreds of (maybe even a thousand) red worms. And now, these worms are happy to call the north-west corner of my basement ‘home.’

I know that composting worms aren’t a normal birthday present. The guys I share an office with remind me of that every time talk of the worms comes up. But I really like my worms. I like that during the week I save all my coffee grounds, veggie scraps, and egg shells in a big Tupperware container.

Then when Saturday rolls around, I take all of that gross, slimy, smelly stuff and I feed it to the worms. I open the bin’s lid, dig a hole, fill up the hole with the week’s gross collection, cover it all up with dirt again, and then top it off with some brown oak leaves from the tree in my yard. In some very strange way it’s satisfying.

The worms don’t say much. They don’t ever say thank you. They don’t cheer every Saturday when I open the lid. But I know they’re content because every week I see baby worms crawling around… eating the previous weeks’ blueberries, spinach leaves, and carrots. And each week, there’s more rich, black dirt for me to use in my garden this spring. Talk about transformation.

Transformation. From disgusting leftovers to rich, wonderful soil. From moldy refrigerator scraps to fertilizer for this summer’s tomatoes. This time of year is a time of transformation. From dark winter to warm, bright spring. From brown to green. From death to life. Lent is all about transformation… and I’m so glad that Easter [Lutheran Church] is talking about transforming at worship, and church school, and confirmation, and book studies, and Chick Talk [women’s group], etc.

‘Transformation’ means that there’s hope for us. If a bin of worms in my basement can transform slimy onion skins into fantastic soil… how much more hope there is for us… who will be transformed by the promises of Jesus Christ on a sunny Easter morning!

Jesus will take our weak mortal bodies and transform them into glorious bodies like his own… -Philippians 3: 21

Sarah Clark is an ELCA Pastor and works at Easter Lutheran Church in Eagan, MN. She graduated from Luther College in 2005 and Luther Seminary in 2010. Sarah seriously loves the Current (a radio station), good food, and the BWCA in northern Minnesota.

Photos of worms by Easter member Julie McCarty.

Adding Prayer During Lent

Often people choose to give up something during Lent.  During the Ash Wednesday night service at the Lake, Pastor Paul suggested a different approach this year.  Why not decide to add in something this year?  Why not choose to focus on prayer during this Lenten season?  Prayer is the best way to keep your eyes on God.  

Prayer can take many forms.  Prayer doesn’t have to involve reviewing a laundry list of requests.  Prayer can be quietly sitting in God’s presence and enjoying His peace.  Some people choose to light a candle before they pray each morning.  The candle can serve as a reminder of God’s light that permeates the world around us.  For more ideas and thoughts on prayer, come back and visit this blog periodically.  As you pray for God to change the world, you might be surprised at how prayer changes you!