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What Will I Give Up for Lent?

My wife Sue and I attended Hope Lutheran Church in Palm Desert, CA on Transfiguration Sunday. Hope Lutheran has a very large welcoming congregation that worships in a modern building with beautiful stained-glass windows. We attended the traditional liturgical service, one of their three Sunday services; the congregation also has a service on Saturday evening.

When we arrived an usher handed us a four-page bulletin with information about the worship service. Tucked inside were a number of inserts one of which described over eight pages the congregational activities for the coming week and month. On the last page of the bulletin a basic outline of the liturgy was listed. During the service the complete liturgy and the text of the hymns were projected on a large screen above and behind the altar. Musical offerings were sung by a 30+ person choir.

This worship setting is vastly different from what we experience at St. Stephen’s. Yet, the lessons were from the same lectionary and the liturgy contained the same elements we are accustomed to. We felt at home in this Lutheran context.

In his sermon, the pastor, Rev. Derek Fossey, challenged each of us to give up something for Lent, specifically, to give up the habit of passing by a stranger without giving that person any of our attention. He asked each of us to do something each day in Lent to make one stranger happy.

What does it take to make one stranger happy each day? We decided to find out.

From our experience today, Ash Wednesday, it takes being on the lookout for opportunities and as we discovered, if you look, those opportunities will appear. On one of our walks we found a lost credit card that we turned over to the concierge at our hotel who in turn contacted the owner. Later, we came across a guest who was having trouble with her access card and we used ours to help her enter a public area she wanted to visit. Again later, we saw people in a car behind us as we entered a park in an Indian Reservation and we decided to pay their admission fee when we paid ours.

We are now going to be on the lookout for some things we can do for two more strangers tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

If each of us makes one stranger happy each day we will be spreading God’s love to a lot of people through our actions.

What can you do to make one stranger happy each day?

Bob Linderman

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