Beloved in Christ,
Through Feb 16 we are still in the season of Epiphany: the season of light in the midst of winter darkness. Each Sunday’s gospel lesson gives us another manifestation, another glimpse of the truth of Jesus. Jesus is called, “Lamb of God,” “Son of God and King of Israel.” In Mark 1:15 as Jesus begins his ministry he says, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” Basically the whole rest of the Gospel of Mark expands on this verse and shows how Jesus is good news through his teaching, healing, calling disciples, and especially through his cross and resurrection.
Then on Feb 17 we begin the season of Lent with Ash Wed. Since Old Testament times, ashes have been an outward sign of inner repentance. The word “Lent” comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to lengthen.” The days are lengthening now, which is good news for folks like me who have a touch of seasonal affective disorder. The 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays, which are always little Easter celebrations. Lent is traditionally a time of fasting, prayer, giving charity and doing works of love for neighbors in need. It is a time of preparation for the main things in our Christian faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus our Savior.
All are invited to begin the season of Lent with an Ash Wed. service at 7 pm on Feb 17th. The service includes confession & forgiveness, the imposition of ashes, prayers, scripture and a message and holy communion. Due to Covid restrictions, we won’t be having soup suppers and worship on the other Wednesdays during Lent. We do plan on having either a Maundy Thursday service on April 1 or a Good Friday service on April 2.
February is also Black History Month. We honor the lives and work of great African Americans like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Senator John Lewis. These past years, with the killing of innocent Black Americans like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Auberry and many others, show us that we still have a very long way to go toward racial equality in this country. But a new administration with our first Black and Asian woman Vice President gives me hope. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
I encourage us to keep reading Black authors and to get to know African American friends in person whenever possible. I still recommend ELCA pastor Lenny Duncan’s book, “Dear Church: a Love Letter to the Whitest Denomination in America.” I just finished former pro football player Emmanuel Acho’s “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” I’m still working through “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria”, by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD.
A good verse for the season of Lent, or for anytime really, is Joel 2:13. “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Peace in Jesus, Pastor Dennis