Suggestions offered for Lent 'Fines' can be gifts to charity PASADENA

February 12, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

You know it's Lent when you have to fine yourself a nickel for watching your favorite TV program. Or shell out for forgetting to pray before lunch. Or chip in for every pair of shoes you own, or every story you read in the newspaper about the homeless.

The Pasadena United Methodist Church is offering a daily calendar to guide parishioners on their spiritual pilgrimage from the beginning of lent, Feb. 24, until its end on Easter, April 11, says the Rev. R. E. Nowers. He hopes it will help the 1,000-member church focus on what the 40 days before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are supposed to mean.

"Give thanks for labor-saving devices. Pray that some of the energy saved can be used to help others," reads one calendar suggestion. "Give 5 cents for each household appliance.

Church members Pat Heilman and Lucille Sappington spent hours researching Bible passages relating to the home, since the offerings from the Lenten "fines" will go to support Habitat for Humanity and a women's shelter.

"We want to make people more aware of other people's needs and that they can do something," says Mrs. Sappington. "And it's not a burden, it's a fun thing."

Many people, she noted, donate more than the calendar requests, resulting in a big offering for the needy.

The church is helping members observe the season in other ways as well, some traditional and some new.

Children from the church school are creating a colorful Lenten tree for display in the sanctuary. The tree will hold ribbons of purple -- the color of kings, symbolic of Christ's kingship. Other historic decorations will be pretzels, a German symbol of praying hands, and coins to remember Jesus' betrayal for money. The children are adding butterflies, not a specifically Christian tradition but an appropriate symbol of resurrection, said the minister.

"Lenten Easter is really the big celebration of the Christian church," Mr. Nowers said.

On Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent, the church will have a communion service, although without the ashes that traditionally are applied to church members' foreheads.

In the medieval church, parishioners burned palm branches from the previous Easter's Palm Sunday service and anointed their foreheads with the ashes.

"We don't do that," he said, but the church has developed its own Ash Wednesday tradition -- erecting a cross made from an old Christmas tree, lighted with candles that represent asking and receiving forgiveness for one's sins.

Also during the season, the church is holding a weekly Bible study on the 10 commandments, again picking up the theme of giving and unselfishness.

"We think we know what [the commandments] are about, but we rarely talk about coveting, or greed," says the minister. "We're all pretty greedy. We turn the question from 'How much did you give?' to 'How much did you keep?' It's a good question to ask during Lent."

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