By Tegan Kraklio
Area churches will be hosting weekly luncheons during the season of Lent, and opening their doors for prayer.
Their goal, according to Pastor Aleese Kenitzer of Shepherd of the Cross Lutheran, is twofold.
“One is to provide the opportunity for people to engage in different prayer practices, or who might feel uncomfortable or even have time on Sunday mornings to go to worship, but maybe can bop in for 15 minutes on lunch hour and engage in something that feeds their soul spiritually,” Kenitzer said. “And the other is for us to get together and learn what it means to be together as one.”
Officially, Lent begins the day after Ash Wednesday, on Feb 26, and lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays.
“Lent is a season within the Christian church that we intentionally take time to consider Christ’s walk to the cross and then also consider his promise of his resurrection,” said Kenitzer. “Within the Lutheran tradition — I’ll speak for my own since that’s what I know — we focus primarily on three different practices of prayer, giving, and fasting, and really what this picks up on in what we’re doing is this practice of prayer.”
Lent leads into Holy Week, in which some religious traditions celebrate Passover and coincides with Good Friday before Resurrection Sunday, better known as Easter.
In the past, the Muscatine Ministerial Association had tried different kind of services, and Kenitzer said there was an annual Good Friday service for a while.
“What we were beginning to find was those things were just fizzling out, and it just wasn’t meeting the community where it needed to be. So what we were trying to do is take something that was kind of was working and revamp it in a way that provides opportunities for people to be part of a church and also make it less formal of a situation.”
Kenitzer says that the idea was a collaboration between herself and Pastors Ryan and Pam from Faith United and First Presbyterian, respectively.
“It spurned from the three of us and we brought it to others in the community and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in something like this?’ And the overwhelming response has been, ‘Well yes, absolutely!’”
Although Kenitzer oversaw the project, Shepherd of the Cross was unable to be a host church because of other commitments that competed for that time and the use of their building.
Regardless, all the pastors and churches involved are excited to see how the event can help unite the community.
“[We are] excited about how the church can bust outside of the walls that we might find ourselves in on Sunday mornings and engage outside of that.”
Lenten lunches will be hosted every Thursday from noon until 1 p.m. beginning March 5 at Faith United Church of Christ, 3307 Mulberry Ave.; March 12 at Trinity Episcopal, 211 Walnut St.; March 19 at Bloomington Friends, 2698 180th St.; March 26 at First Presbyterian, 401 Iowa Ave. and April 2 at First Christian Church, 700 Kindler Ave.