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The ‘Splainer: Ash Wednesday and dirty Christian foreheads

The ‘Splainer (as in “You’ve got some ‘splaining to do”) is an occasional feature in which RNS staff give you everything you need to know about current events to hold your own at a cocktail party. (RNS) Chances are you’ll see a bunch of folks walking around with shmutz on their foreheads this Wednesday (Feb. […]

Layman ‘walks with the hungry’ for Lent

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Some people give up chocolate or Facebook for Lent. Some vow renewed commitment to meditation, prayer or evangelism. But a certain few, like Matt Brodie, are embarking on a more extreme Lenten journey—one that Mr. Brodie hopes will help him better understand the plight of the hungry. Mr. Brodie, communications director for the UMC’s […]

Pretzels: Lent’s official snack

And you thought pretzels were just a salty, crunchy snack. At some United Methodist churches, the humble pretzel is a tasty sign of the arrival of Lent.  A few, like Sumner United Methodist in Sumner, Wash., even set aside “Pretzel Sunday,” typically on the first Sunday of Lent. At Emmanuel UMC in Fleetwood, Pa., “Pretzel […]

Unusual gift transforms strangers into friends

By Chris Schutz, Special Contributor It all started when Steve Fields of Ponca City, Okla., and his wife, Jennifer, were watching a football game on TV in February 2012. Three months later, Mr. Fields was in Pennsylvania donating a kidney to a man he had just met. The link between the two events was a […]

Give it up – UMs mark Lent by giving up, giving away and helping out

Two or three times a week, Allison Griffin meets business associates at a Starbucks around town. Each time, she pays $3.75 for an iced espresso drink. But during Lent, which began Feb. 13 and ends on Easter Sunday, March 31, Ms. Griffin is foregoing the espresso and making do with a cup of ice water. […]

Reflections: Lent – Season of regret, with cleansing to come

How can Lent be here already? It seems we were just celebrating Christmas. But Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, signals the beginning of this solemn season of 40 days. On the High Holy Day of Easter, we will join Christians around the world in celebrating our Lord’s Resurrection. But first we must prepare ourselves. How will […]

Ashes to go: Starting Lent outside the four walls

These days, you don’t have to darken the door of a church to experience Ash Wednesday. Following a strategy that’s gathering momentum, United Methodist pastors and lay folk will bring the ashes to the people—to hurried commuters in train stations in Texas, to pedestrians on busy street corners in New York and Chicago, to patrons […]