Lent: A Wilderness Season of Losing & Finding

by susan on February 20, 2020

Barring times of recreation & solitude, the wilderness is a place we tend to avoid. Barren, dry, empty spaces can lack the comforts & conveniences of home. They can feel void of meaning & significance.

Yet, wildnerness can be one of the most formative places we travel.

According to scripture, despite the harsh conditions & all the wandering & complaining, the wilderness was a place of community formation for the Israelites as they escaped the grips of the Egyptian empire. They learned a new way of life there – they learned to live on enough for each day. It was in the wildernss that Jacob wrestled with God and it was there that Jesus withstood the temptation to prove his power.

Wilderness may not be as barren as its made out to be.

The wilderness is not just a physical place, though. It’s a also a metaphor for the difficult spaces on our journey – some that we choose to enter & some that we would never choose. Seasons of life, crises we face or decisions we make can land us in wilderness-like spaces.

The season of Lent has a lot to do with wilderness. Designed to imitate the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, Lent includes the 40 days (minus Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It is the season that we are invited to enter instead of avoid wilderness. We are encouraged to embrace discomfort, instead of letting it be a deterrent…trusting that there is life there.

After living it up on Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday), on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26th), we come together to acknowledge our own mortality & are asked to do some serious self-reflection. We are invited to stop by the Karpeles between 5-6:30 p.m. to make space to enter Lent intentionally. There is room to consider what, if anything, we might give up, lose or take on trusting that we will find something in return. There will be ideas of habits, attitudes or practieces to fast from or feast on.

During our Sunday gatherings in Lent, as we keep moving through Mark, we’ll journey through the stories & scriptures that led to Jesus’ suffering & death. This Lent, our Sunday gatherings will also look a little different as we make space to hear wilderness stories from some in our community.

Like anything, Lent can be turned into a meaningless ritual. It can be a time where we preserve the appearance of being religious, but miss the move deeper into the essence of Jesus’ way.

Let’s not let that happen. Whether you are with us for part or all of the Lenten journey, find ways to let these 40 days draw you deeper into the life-giving, love-centered & costly way of Christ.

Peace & love,


Advent with The Well

by susan on November 27, 2019

This past weekend, we concluded the church year with a weekend full of celebration & thanksgiving.  Part of our time together was spent at the New American Welcome Center, sharing a “First Thanksgiving” meal with families who are newcomers to America. There was a beautiful blending of cultures as we shared a ton of food & conversation & even some singing & dancing together.

I couldn’t help but imagine what had brought some of these newcomers here to America. There were people from Sudan, Congo, Cuba, Iraq and other places who had experienced a range of conflict, violence, loss & suffering. Amidst all of their challenges though, they were finding home here.

I was reminded that even when death & darkness & despair seem to have the final word, a new way forward is always on the horizon & in the making.

According to the prophet Isaiah (Is. 43:16, 19, MSG),

This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves…

‘Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?’ 

Images of God as Builder, Creator, Artist, Maker & Shaper of the new abound in the story of Scripture yet we struggle to see the new creation. Our imaginations fall short, our attention spans grow weary, our patience wears thin, but God…God is the Eternal Artist who is always conjuring up a better, more just & loving way forward. 

Advent invites us to pay attention, to look, to see & to imagine how that has happened, is happening & will happen in our lives & in this world. How is the Artist creating a new way foward? How is hope, peace, joy & love coming to us?

During our Sunday gatherings this Advent, we’ll anticipate that new way foward together through song, story, candle lightings & communion. We’ll listen to ancient texts & to our friends as they invite us to see how God is at work shaping a new future. We will prepare for the celebration of Christ’s coming as the new King who invites us into a new kind of kingdom.

We gather at 10:30 a.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum and no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, we would love to welcome you.


Words Matter: “Hell”

October 21, 2019

The following message was shared during our Sunday gathering on October 20, 2019 and is part of our Words Matter series. The focus text is Luke 16:19-31. It would be helpful to read this Scripture passage meditatively before reading the message. *** For the past several years, I have been able to attend the Barbara […]

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Words Matter: SIN

September 17, 2019

The following message was shared during our Sunday gathering on 9.15.19. It is part of our “Words Matter” series & was given in reponse to the question, what are we talking about when we talk about sin? The central text was Luke 7:36-50. — This week marked the 18th anniversary of the tre tragic 9/11 […]

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Words Matter

August 30, 2019

Not that you need me to tell you this, but… Words matter. They have the power to give or to take life. They can sting, soothe, divide or delight. They can give voice to our thoughts, truths, emotions & experiences. They can even point toward something beyond us. They can bring clarity, wisdom & a […]

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Beach & Baptism: You are invited.

August 21, 2019

Each year, The Well spends a Sunday at the beach together and everyone is invited. This is not just any trip to the beach, it’s our annual gathering to celebrate baptism, to remember our own baptisms & to enjoy a day of play, rest & renewal. Whether baptism has been part of your faith journey […]

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Loving Our Immigrant Neighbors

June 26, 2019

While we continue moving through our summer school of love, thousands of immigrant children are being separated from their parents and held in substandard detention center conditions. It doesn’t matter where they come from or how they got here. They are here now and they deserve better. A year ago, I had the privilege of […]

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Summer School of Love

June 8, 2019

In Practicing the Way of Jesus Together: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love, Mark Scandrette writes, “The vision of belonging that Jesus embodied and taught calls us to a love that is far more ruthless and tender than seems humanly possible. It is a kind of love that can empower you to treat your […]

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Journey with us this Lent

March 3, 2019

Lent is a season of journey toward the cross, of preparation for Easter, of looking inward & inviting God to reveal what lies fallow, what needs to be nurtured, and what needs to die for new life to emerge. We invite you to move through this season with us in several ways. Ash Wednesday, March […]

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Blessed are the peacemakers

January 29, 2019

“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” ~ Mother Teresa There are a ton of reasons why I felt stirred to start a new community of faith. One of those reasons […]

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