With Ash Wednesday upon us we will enter the season of Lent. We will join with Christians around the world and over the centuries to walk with Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem. We will watch for signs of grace and listen for notes of encouragement as we go. The observance of Lent recalls the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness, undergoing temptation. It reminds us of the forty years the people of Israel wandered in the Sinai, before they were ready to enter the Promised Land. In the early years of the Church it was a time of learning and growing, of study, prayer and reflection for new believers as they prepared for their baptism on Easter Sunday. Over the centuries it became a season for all Christians to engage in those same spiritual exercises.
This year, our experience of Lent and Easter will be colored by the beginning of work on the first phase of construction here at the Church. Lent is a wilderness journey, and it may seem even more so for us this year. There will be construction fencing around the side of the sanctuary closest to Crenshaw. There will be noise, dust and disruption through the week, and occasionally on Saturdays. I am sure that we will experience challenges and frustrations along the way.
So what are we getting for all the trouble? Our current choir room is about 640 square feet. The new room will be more than double that size, including an accessible restroom, separate robing area and space for a small desk. It will be more useful not only for choir rehearsal but for other programs and classes through the week.
We are also going to have 21 new parking spaces closest to the sanctuary, and a new and more useful access ramp adjacent to the main steps. The parking lot will be somewhat larger than we intended. The County Fire Department requires that a fire truck be able to turn around in that area without backing up. That was one of the discoveries we made along the way, and it led to additional costs for paving, heavier duty retaining walls, drainage and lighting. We also upgraded the landscaping significantly to maintain a garden view out the left side of the sanctuary.
These changes will be helpful to us in the short and long term. They also make it possible for us to develop new education facilities we need to serve our mission. We are well along in the design process for that project and have begun the application process with the city. We expect it to take a couple of years as we work through Planning Commission, hold public hearings and revise our plans along the way. When the current education buildings are ready for demolition the new parking area will provide a home for portable classrooms.
Lent is a journey to be sure. Life is a journey. As we move through the coming season together, my prayer is that our time in the “wilderness” will also lead us to new hope and generous sharing in the grace of our God.
Grace and peace,