Easter approaches — Programs at two Newberg churches highlight the diversity in how the holy period is observed

Inspired by author Jen Hatmaker’s “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,” a treatise on the divergence between Christian values and our consumer culture, Northside Community Church Pastor Jeff Getsinger has asked his congregation to undergo an interesting variety of fasts to observe Lent this spring.

Newberg First United Methodist, on the other hand, is sticking to the tried and true practice of “lectio divina” during the solemn period preceding Easter.

Whether traditional or modern, both approaches are designed to prepare believers for the celebration of the resurrection in a profound way.

Piggybacking on Hatmaker’s model, Getsinger has given Northside congregants a choice to follow their choice of seven different fasts, centered on food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress, for seven days apiece.

For the food fast, for example, people are to limit themselves to just seven foods; for spending, to make purchases at just seven places in a week. The clothes fast limits people to seven articles of clothing for a week, while another instructs people to give away seven things per day for a week.

“The main thing was we wanted to focus on prayer,” Getsinger said. “When you’re tired of eating seven foods, then you pray. When you’re not listening to TV, spend more time on your spiritual journey. It’s giving up physical things to focus on what’s happening spiritually.”

For stress, followers are asked to pause and pray seven times a day, with each instance based on a specific Bible verse for specific times of the day, from midnight to bedtime.

The midnight prayer for example, comes from Psalms 119:148 (New King James Version), “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on your word,” while the dawn prayer is Psalm 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

“Quite a few people engaged in doing it,” Getsinger said. “There’s some flexibility because there were different ideas given for different weeks and people can kind of make it into what they wanted.”

Lecto Divina, Latin for “divine reading,” is a traditional Benedictine practice that involves reading scripture, meditation and prayer.

At Newberg First United Methodist, people have gathered into groups of six to 10 people to read each verse, selected by Pastor Bob Flaherty, three times, taking a different approach with each examination.

“The first time is just read through to listen to it and share,” church volunteer Lois Walton said. “Then it’s read through again and you try to think through what phrase or word hits you or stands out for you and share that. The third time is about the meaning of the whole passage. It’s a sharing of how the scripture affects you.”

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