She does not look or act her age. She’s no young chick, but she has weathered remarkably well, give or take a few storms along the way, and it seems the older she gets the more resilient and creative she becomes.
Through the years, she has gained quite a reputation as a multi-faceted, dynamic, thought-provoking gal, who continues to draw a whole community of people to her, especially in the spring when she blossoms and blooms in all her splendor.
She has brought hope, revitalized faith, and challenged convention, provoked questions and more than a bit of controversy over her last ninety-nine years. She is still going strong (some say stronger than ever) as she rounds the corner on her 100th birthday.
Who is this remarkable person?
As you may have guessed by now, ‘she’ is Calvary Church’s LENTEN PREACHING SERIES (fondly known as LPS).
On Thursday, March 31, the Rev. Dan Matthews, who has set a record himself, having preached at LPS for fifty consecutive years, began his sermon by leaning around one side of Calvary’s pulpit to announce in his inimitable stage-whisper, “Did you know that next year this preaching series will celebrate One Hundred Years of Lenten Preaching? It is extraordinary: ONE HUNDRED YEARS!”
I was part of the large, enthusiastic congregation that day, and as Dan continued to talk about the 100th year of LPS I heard people exclaiming, “I had no idea this has been going on that long, did you?” “One hundred years?! That is hard to believe.’
It is hard to believe, isn’t it? How has LPS continued to offer extraordinary preaching and music for the past ninety-nine years, not to mention her beloved younger sister, Waffle Shop, which has served mouth-watering ‘Lenten’ lunches since 1928?
This Lenten season has been one of the best I can remember in terms of the quality of preaching and the creativity of Waffle Shop, where new systems have made it far easier to order and pay for our food.
Oh, the preaching! Beloved friends like Dan Matthews, Buddy Stallings, Rabbi Micah Greenstein, and Rev. Sam Teitel continued to challenge us on every level in this 2022 series.
There were new faces and voices so powerful and refreshing that their words are still ringing in my ears. Just two of these wonderful ‘new’ preachers were the Rev. Joshua Narcisse, and Dr. Ellen F. Davis.
Narcisse, director of spiritual care at Church Health: “I was raised Pentecostal and attended Catholic School. Let me tell you, Pentecostal passion and Catholic guilt is a deadly combination when it comes to giving up chocolate for Lent!” Listen to his sermon online; you will never feel the same way about giving up something during Lent. And you will laugh out loud.
Dr. Davis, theologian and Old Testament scholar at Duke Divinity School, preached a sermon about hope that was so powerful I never wanted it to end. “When the going gets tough,” she said, “the tough get hopeful.” “When the going gets tough, the tough get resourceful.”
Her vast knowledge of the Old Testament and her power of human understanding are an exquisite combination. If you have never explored the depths and beauty of the Old Testament, her book Getting Involved with God, Rediscovering the Old Testament is one of the best investments you will ever make.
Next Lent we will celebrate 100 Years of Lenten Preaching, a milestone for sure. But this Lent we have plenty to celebrate as well. Kudos to Scott Walters, rector, and Heidi Rupke, Lenten Preaching Series coordinator, who have guided us through this season, as well as to all the staff, the musicians, and the volunteers who made it all possible.
And here’s to that vibrant, resilient Lady LPS who at Ninety-Nine is Still Going Strong!
Thanks be to God!