Pastor Austin Murray of Trinity-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Kihei is fond of quoting Psalm 133. "'Oh how good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity.' This wonderful thought is happening here in Kihei, and all are welcome to share in the celebration," he said.
There are five churches in Kihei seeking a unified celebration of Lent. "The whole community is welcome to be a part of this blessed experience," Pastor Murray said.
The meetings will be held every Wednesday night until Holy Week.
The Kihei Tongan United Methodist Mission choir opened the Ash Wednesday service at Kihei Lutheran Church. Congregations from five different churches in Kihei met together for this service.
Congregation members will provide soups, salads, bread and drinks from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Lenten Worship service will be held from 7:30 to 8:15 p.m.
Dates and locations for the midweek Lenten services are: Feb. 29 at St. Theresa Church (25 West Lipoa St.); March 7 at Trinity-by-the-Sea (100 Kulanihako'i St.); March 14 at Kihei Lutheran Church (220 Moi Place); March 21 at St. Theresa Church; and March 28 at Trinity-by-the-Sea.
"This kind of sharing began 10 years ago when Kihei Lutheran Church and Trinity Episcopal Church met together weekly during the penitential season of Lent to share a humble meal of bread and soup, and to join in a prayer service," Pastor Murray recalled.
In the years since then, the group of churches has expanded to include St. Theresa Church, Kihei Tongan Methodist Church and Maui Korean-American United Methodist Church.
Pastor Tevita Maile of the Tongan congregation said, "We like to unite all Christians together in Maui." Pastor Sarah Kim of the Korean congregation added, "We want to respect each other's traditions and celebrate the diversity of our heritage."
These diverse congregations come together with strong differences--theological, ethnic and historical--yet they are convinced that there is a lot more uniting them than dividing them.
"Jesus should not be defined by lockstep uniformity," said Pastor Murray. "Each church brings its own unique and glorious experience of what Jesus Christ has done for them all."
Lent is a time of preparation that owes much of its spirit to the time Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his ministry. Therefore, it is also a time when we can break away from the old and familiar patterns we so easily fall into and open ourselves to the possibility of renewal and new beginnings.
The 40-day Christian observance began on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, and concludes on Easter, Sunday, April 8. The name "Lent" comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word "lengten," which means "springtime," the season in which the daylight periods lengthen.
"The practices of Lent involve a period of fasting, prayer and charity giving," Pastor Murray explained. The purpose is to prepare oneself for receiving God's grace and forgiveness, the essence of the Easter message. "During Lent, we have a special opportunity to turn to the highest part of ourselves and move into what is most meaningful in life," he said.
"The sharing of aloha to draw each other together into one 'ohana in Christ is a blessed experience," said Pastor Dave Krueger of Kihei Lutheran Church. "The whole community is welcome to come for dinner and worship," he said.
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