Observing Lent at UPC

Join us for Lent, a season of repentance and reflection

Quick Links

What is Lent?

Lent is a 40 day season of spiritual discipline and preparation that starts annually with Ash Wednesday—which falls this year on February 22— and anticipates the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ at Easter (this year, April 9). During this time, individuals will often fast from something, or take on a new discipline as part of their preparation, all with the ultimate goal of deepening their relationship with God.

“What can I fast from?”
When we think of fasting, food is typically the first thing that comes to mind, and some choose to fast from a certain food. However, there are also media fasts (social media, television, and/or video games), spending fasts (eating out, new clothing purchases, miscellaneous shopping), and personal fasts (complaining, gossip, busyness). As you fast, you are encouraged to take the time and/or money typically devoted to that thing and use it in connection with and service to God.

“What are some examples of disciplines I can take on?”
There are many spiritual disciplines you can add to your Lenten observance: prayer, meditation, reading the Bible, service, connection with others. We’ll also be doing a sermon series to introduce some lesser-observed disciplines!

“But when I count the days on the calendar, there are more than 40!”
Sundays are seen as “little Easters,” and thus they are not counted in the liturgical 40 days. Some choose to make Sundays a rest day from their Lenten fasts; others choose to include those days.

Ash Wednesday

The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday, which falls on Feb. 22 this year. During worship on this day, ashes are used to mark a cross on the forehead or hand of each worshiper as a reminder of our humanity and mortality. We will offer the imposition of ashes in two ways that day:

  • Drive-thru/walk-up imposition of ashes from 12:30-1:30 pm (please enter via Franklin St.)
  • Worship in the Sanctuary at 7:30 pm, with organ meditation music from Caroline Polito beginning at 7:00 pm (livestream available at upcch.org/live)

All are welcome to join us for Ash Wednesday worship.

Lenten Sermon Series

You’re invited to join us for worship each Sunday in Lent at 8:30 am or 11:00 am. Our 11:00 service is also livestreamed.

About our Lenten Sermon Series: “Lord, teach us to pray.” In the 11th chapter of Luke, one of the disciples asks Jesus this question and we have been trying to learn how to pray ever since. What is prayer? Is there a right and wrong way to do it? What happens to God through our prayer and what happens to us when we pray? In the season of Lent this year we will take a tour through some of the prayers found in Scripture and hopefully answer these questions along the way.


Spiritual Formation Opportunities

Sunday School:

Dunham Hall Class: Faith in Plain Sight — A Lenten Journey of Storytelling

Join us in Lent as we hear the stories of fellow church members as they are articulate where their faith and life have been woven together. Everyday saints will be gently interviewed, exploring different threads each week, such as: work, health, family, current issues, community engagement.

Vance Barron Hall Class: (beginning March 5) Earth Care Series

Led by our Earth Care Team, this series will offer an opportunity to learn about creation care, including conversation about sustainability practices, policies, and more.

Full details for both classes are available on our Adult Education page.


Taizé Worship:

Join us for our monthly contemplative service on Tuesday, March 14 at 7 pm in the Sanctuary. For more about Taizé, click here.

Devotional Resources

Tread Lightly for Lent:
a daily reflection/action calendar centered around earth care – click the image to access the download

Journey to the Cross:
a daily online devotional offered by d365.org, an ecumenical devotional for students and adults

Seeking: Honest Questions for a Deeper Faith:
a printed devotional with commentary, poetry, visual art, hymns, and reflection prompts. Copies are available in the narthex.

Holy Week & Easter

Maundy Thursday
April 6, 7:30 pm

Maundy Thursday is the day during Holy Week that commemorates Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, when he washed their feet. Join us in the Sanctuary for a contemplative service, including hand washing and Holy Communion, to reflect on how Jesus proclaimed the gospel through service and love.

The hand washing element will be representative of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. As you come forward for communion, a worship leader will pour a small amount of water onto your hands, and you will then have your hands dried. A fresh towel will be used for each person.

Good Friday Peace Walk
April 7, 10:00 am

**Due to inclement weather, the peace walk has been cancelled. You’re invited to gather in the University Baptist sanctuary at 10:30 to hear readings from Letter from a Birmingham Jail.**

This year marks the 60th anniversary of MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, written after he was arrested on Good Friday. Several Chapel Hill churches will commemorate this anniversary with a Good Friday peace walk and reading. Beginning at St. Pauls AME, the walk will conclude at University Baptist Church, where Chapel Hill clergy will read from the letter. All are welcome.

Good Friday Worship
April 7, 7:30 pm

On the Friday of Holy Week, we will worship together in a Service of Tenebrae. Tenebrae is the Latin word meaning darkness. Sometimes we learn things in the dark, in the shadows, that we could have never learned or appreciated in the bright light of day. On Good Friday, we will read the story of Jesus’ passion (his suffering and death) and extinguish lights until we leave the sanctuary in complete darkness, awaiting the glorious light of Easter morning.

Easter Sunday
April 9

8:30 am: Worship

9:45 am: Potluck Easter Brunch

10:15 am: Easter Egg Hunt

11:00 am: Worship

Click here to learn more about our Easter schedule.