Sunday, March 01 2020
Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word
Lent is the time when we realize that the distractions of the world have kept us from God’s purpose in our lives. If we want to be an authentic expression of Christ’s light, we need to pray, study, listen, and make God the center of our world again. For the first week of Lent please consider putting your full trust in God. Please observe a Holy Lent and take a few quiet moments to re-examine your commitment to God’s purpose. Please invite your family and friends to join you each Sunday in Lent. Please attend our five Tuesday night programs and our retreat on March 14th with Leslie Valentine. This is the season when those who have been away, come back to the love and mercy of God. The church offers the practice of fasting in the season of Lent. This is not recommended for seniors, children, or those with medical issues. Fasting means skipping a meal and using the time to pray. Some people will give up an expensive habit or extravagance like lattes at Starbucks and give quarters to Laundry Love. An even better practice would be to give up some TV or social media time and volunteer at the thrift shop or clean out your closet of cloths that you no longer wear and bring them to St. John’s.
God is very near to us and loves us dearly. Each week I share the body and blood of our Lord with the good folks at St. John’s on Sunday morning. These sacraments are an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. When we can let go of our petty need for control over others and our enmity with others, we can live in love and charity with our neighbors. We are asked to lead a new life, following the commandments, and walking in Holy ways. The Holy Eucharist is essential during Lent to bring us back to the place where God can do the most good with us. During the recessional hymn there is an energy and spirit in the congregation that leads us to hospitality to our guests and sends us into the world with a mission to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Please join for Sunday services as you are able in Lent.
I have preached the last two weeks how deeper relationships can bring us to a place of great joy, even in the midst of pain. Once we see each other as broken vessels in need of the love and mercy of God, we love all our neighbors because we know that they are just as broken as we are. We begin to walk the path that our Savior walked, who hung on a cross that he might know our pain and we might know the hope of the resurrection. Life can become more fulfilling and wonderful when we align our lives with the purpose of God. This is the true meaning of Lent, to align ourselves once again with God. God calls us to an abundant life and the only things we should give up are those things that draw us away from the love of Christ.
This Sunday is Newcomer Sunday. Please make a special effort to greet our newcomers with a radical hospitality. St. John’s is always about community. Please join us today for a cup of coffee and a few pancakes after the service in the Great Hall.
In Christ’s love,