CCC Blog

“The Faces of Lent”

Face.  F-A-C-E.  A four letter word with at least that many meanings and connotations.  As a noun, the word “face” represents our identifying mark.  Like snowflakes or stripes on a zebra, no two faces are alike.  Your face is uniquely and singularly you!  Now, there may be things about your face that we don’t like and wish we could change or cover up.  But our face bears the imprint of God, who created each of us with a loving touch and delights in our individuality. 

As a plural noun – as in faces – we are meant to think of crowds.  Faces in the crowd.  Faces make up the crowd.  Faces shows that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.  Each of us being one part of many, sharing a common humanity with all the others.  Faces in the crowd can sometimes get lost in the crowd, like a stadium full of spectators at a sporting event.  The sea of humanity is so large that it becomes easy to lose the individuality of any one, particular face.

As a verb, “face” refers to our posture; how and in which direction we are standing.  It means to look at; to see; to gaze upon – as when we face the mirror and see our reflection in it.  But the verb “face” can also mean to confront; to call things for what they are; not to deny the truth but to admit and accept it, no matter how difficult that might be.

The season of Lent is about the word “face.”  It’s about facing the cross – seeing and gazing upon the sacrifice of Christ; his death and resurrection.  It’s about confronting our own sin – for which Jesus died to save us.  Sin is about “missing the mark” of perfection; failing to adequately live by God’s Word and will.  The vast majority of sins are committed not because we mean to, but rather in spite of the fact that we don’t.  We certainly don’t try to miss the mark, but even in spite of our best efforts, we fall short of the glory of God.

Lent is about confronting that reality; accepting that we are part of a crowd – a common humanity, whose nature it is to do the very thing we shouldn’t do and to fail to do the very thing we should.  Lent is about not hiding our face in the crowd and hoping we don’t have to admit this truth.  Rather it is about accepting the responsibility that we all have – as unique individuals – to examine ourselves and admit our need for Christ; his forgiveness; his grace.  No one can do that work for us, but us.  And Lent is God’s invitation to accept this important and saving work. 

Which is why we wear ashes on our faces on Ash Wednesday, which signals the beginning of Lent.  To remind us of our brokenness; our need for Christ; and our willingness to keep facing the cross throughout our life of faith.  For it is “In the cross, in the cross, that our individual souls will find their ultimate rest.”      

Blessings – Michael


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“Faces at the Cross – Small Group Opportunity”

There were many faces in the crowd that witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus.  Many of them are well known.  Of course, there was Judas (who betrayed),  Peter (who denied) and Pilate (who washed his hands).  But there were many others as well.  Lesser known, perhaps, and more likely to be “lost in the crowd.”  As we journey through the season of Lent at Central, toward the cross of Good Friday and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday, we will look at some of these faces and be invited to see ourselves in each.  And throughout, we will be reminded that through each of those faces – as through our own – the face of God shines.


Feb 18 IntroductionThe Face of God

Feb 25 The Crowds (who exalted Jesus one day and cheered for his

Crucifixion the next)

Mar 4 Simon of Cyrene (who carried Jesus’ cross with him)

Mar 11 Roman Centurion (who confessed Jesus as he died)

Mar 18 Two Thieves (who were crucified alongside Jesus)

Mar 25 Many women (who stayed near Jesus as he died)

Each of the Faces at the Cross of Jesus’ crucifixion represents a story.  A story so important, each was chosen to be part of the story of salvation as it was written through the life, death and  resurrection of Jesus. During our Lenten sermon series, we will be exploring those stories in greater detail.  

In that same spirit of storytelling, we are inviting you to be part of a Storytelling Small Group experience.  Each week, three (3) small groups will be led by different leaders but all will be covering the same material.  Participants will be a given a “storytelling prompt” ahead of time, based on the story we’ll be emphasizing in worship that week, and in the small group will share a story from their own life.  We believe that stories are sacred, for God dwells in the stories that define us.  And we believe there is transforming power in stories, both to unite us and change us.  Moreover, we believe that there are more stories within us than we probably realize and the goal of this small group experience is to put us in touch with those stories. 

Sunday, February 25 4:00 p.m.

All small group participants are asked to attend an opening orientation session

Tuesdays    1:00 p.m. Rm 240    Don Martin           (2/27, 3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27)

Tuesdays    4:00 p.m. Café    Scott Woolridge   (2/27, 3/6, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27)

Thursdays  5:30 p.m. Café    Tina Miller       (3/1, 3/8, 3/15, 3/22, 3/29)

At the opening orientation session, we will hand out the storytelling prompts for each week.  But here’s a sample of what a prompt looks like: 

Week 1 – Theme: the Crowds who welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday and turned on him 5 days later

Minister’s Article Continued on Page 3….

Describe a time in your life when you “turned on a dime…”

Tell us about a time in your life when you “followed the crowd…”

Hope you can be part of this Lenten experience. Sign up in the Welcome Center for the small group of your choosing!!! 

Blessings – Michael

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Reflection from Michael

In the spirit of Ash Wednesday and the upcoming season of Lent, I am reminded of this story on the sacredness of sacrificial love.  Join us for Ash Wednesday services tomorrow (2/14) at 12 noon in the Chapel or at 6:30 p.m. in the sanctuary.  Blessings on your day…

Time before time, when the world was young, two brothers shared a field and a mill.  Each night they divided evenly the grain they had ground together during the day.  Now as it happened, one of the brothers lived alone; the other had a wife and a large family.  One day, the single brother thought to himself: “It isn’t really fair that we divide the grain evenly.  I have only myself to care for, but my brother has children to feed.”  So each night he secretly took some of his grain to his brother’s granary to see that he was never without. 

But the married brother said to himself one day, “It isn’t fair that we divide the grain evenly, because I have children to provide for me in my old age, but my brother has no one.  What will he do when he is old?”  So every night he secretly took some of his grain to his brother’s granary.  As a result, both of them always found their supply of grain mysteriously replenished each morning. 

Then one night the brothers met each other halfway between their two houses, suddenly realized what had been happening, and joyfully embraced each other in love.  God witnessed their meeting and proclaimed, “This is a holy place – a place of love – and here is where my temple shall be built.”  And so it was.  The holy place, where God is made known, is the place where human beings discover the joy sacrificial giving.  For there, through love, they discover each other and themselves – for who they are and who they are meant to be.

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2_8 E-Votional

February 8, 2018

Dear all,

This past Sunday our focus was Psalm 48 and we noted that the arc of that Psalm follows the flow of the worship we experience every Sunday.  First we gather.  We process into the worship space and festive music leads us in.  Psalm 48 is a Psalm of Ascent and would have been chanted (or sung) as worshipers climbed the hill on which the temple was built as a way of preparing for worship.  As they did this they offered Psalms of praise to God.  Next, we meditate on God’s Word.  Similarly, the heart of Psalm 48 is v. 9, which says that we “ponder God’s love in the midst of the temple.”  Once the worshipers arrived in the temple there is a different focus.  “Pondering,” or reflecting, meditation on, etc…  In our worship today we experience this as the anthem, scripture reading, sermon and communion.  Finally, Psalm 48 ends with the people being sent back out for the purpose of telling others that God will be our guide forever.  We, too, are “sent out” with a benediction at the close of each service. 

As our men’s bible study was reflecting on this Psalm again this past Tuesday, we noted that we do a good job of focusing on the first two of those three things – the gathering and the meditating.  But how well do we do the third?  The “going out” and telling others, in word and action, of the God we experienced inside the sanctuary?  We agreed that this “telling and sharing” of the greatness of God is the opportunity we are not taking advantage of as well as we could be.  

Children don’t have near the inhibitions that adults do.  This is a well-known fact.  Which is why we can usually learn something from them, especially as it relates to faith.  For going on six years now, I have helped lead weekly chapel services for the children of our preschool.  We gather for 15-20 minutes every Wednesday in the friendship center and Don and I lead them in singing and Tina or I lead them in an object lesson and prayer.  But we always – and I mean always – conclude chapel with a singing of “This Little Light of Mine.” 

There’s a beautiful phenomenon that occurs during every – and yes I mean every – singing of that song, no matter the week, season or year.  The song’s first verse (“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”) starts out reasonably well.  Probably a mezzo-forte as the children are getting warmed up a bit.  Most of us are have our “lights” in the air (index finger pointing to the sky) and we’re starting to wave them back and forth while we sing.  But it’s the second verse that really gets things going.  The words are “Hide it under a bushel? No!  I’m gonna let it shine.”  As we sing this verse, we cup our off hand and place it over our “light” while we sing “Hide it under a bushel?”  On the word “no,” the cupped hand is lifted off so the light can shine again. 

Now… the amazing thing is that every – and again I literally mean every – we sing this verse, the children scream “NO!” as the uncover their light and let it shine again.  The word “No” resonates and reverberates throughout the friendship center.  They scream it with great gusto and all the energy they can muster.  It is a Pavarotti-esque fortissimo!!!  It is truly the high point of the song.  Week after week.  Season after season.  Year after year.  It’s as though the children instinctively know and understand the sending out portion of Psalm 48.  We are given the light of Christ in worship not to hide it inside our hearts, families and close circles of friends, but so the world may know and experience the love of God in Jesus Christ that we do.  The thought of not sharing it – of hiding it – is so antithetical to faith and discipleship that you simply have to scream “No!” at the mere mention of it. 

Michael E. Karunas, pastor


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