We are in that wonderful time of year again! Yes I did say wonderful! The journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. While often associated with penitence, fasts, giving things up, and perhaps a kind of depressing long few months in the church year, I find this season just the opposite! There are plenty of heartbreaking stories we must engage to understand the morality and love of Jesus. And there are many moments of joy, meaning and sensible faith. Woven into all that, is a journey of finding ourselves. Who we are, what we stand for, what moves us to understand the reasons we are here in this world, in this moment, this day. Self-discovery, and in the process, discovering how God is with us, how to live in a world often so overwhelmingly filled with negativity, news both fake and bad, and sensationalism to raise our level of fear and stress, and yet be people who live in compassion and joy … that is what Lent and Easter are about.
And so, on Shrove Tuesday (which we already gobbled up!) we get together to talk, laugh, and enjoy pancakes dripping in blueberry sauce, just to celebrate life together … and the next day with Ash Wednesday we focus our minds on the unimaginable fact of being made of ashes, star dust, and affirming how intended we are by God. And then into 40 days and nights of looking at what that means for each of us, and for humanity. To be intended, by God.
A very important part of that journey this year will be our book study. On Wednesday evenings at 7pm we will be sharing our beautiful and peaceful compline service, and a few Celtic evening prayer services. In that setting we are doing a book study. “The Book of Joy,” by the Dalai Lama and Anglican Archbishop Desmund Tutu. It is a book on their conversations about how they see the world with joy and compassion, in the midst of suffering, struggle, love and strength.
And then we will arrive in Holy Week. We begin on Palm Sunday with 9am BCP Holy Eucharist, followed by 10:30am Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Palms. Maundy Thursday will happen at 7pm with our observation of the Last Supper followed by the stripping of the altar. On Good Friday at 7pm we will share the service called the Shadows of the Cross, extinguishing seven red vigil candles as we move through the last words of Christ from the cross. On Easter Sunday, there will be a BCP Holy Eucharist at 9am, followed at 10:30am with a special Easter Family Service. It will all be about finding the connection between who Jesus was, and who we are.
We hope you will join us, as we move from the time of tears and worry Jesus felt as he rode into Jerusalem, to the last supper when Jesus and his friends attempt to prepare for the unimaginable, frightening consequences of their beliefs. I invite you to stay with us at the foot of the cross, a place no one is comfortable being, and try to wrap our minds and hearts around how much Jesus believed in love and human beings, in the midst of the violence enabled by fear, protectionism and human anger.
I invite you to join us, on Easter Day, when we emerge from darkness with the mental, emotional and spiritual insights we need to engage our world in a way that is true to the ethics and compassion Christ embraced without compromise. And to leave the church, each of us knowing what God calls us to do with this kind of love. To be living lights on this beautiful planet.
The Rev’d Mark Pretty