Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Well here it is, it's almost 90 degrees here in Central Florida so Spring must be upon us. Springtime doesn't just mean hot weather, pollen and budding flowers, it is also used to initiate a season in the Church year, Lent. Lent from a Saxon word originally meant "length" and was used to denote springtime. Here in the part of the world from where I write we begin to see the days lengthen and new life appear.
Lent developed in relation to Easter as a fast in preparation for the feast. The early Church held a two-day mourning fast on Friday to commemorate Jesus' death, and on Saturday for His entombment. The Church later extended the fast to six days before Easter. Only water, bread and salt were consumed the first four days, and a complete fast for the final two days. Near the Council of Nicaea in 325 a.d. many Churches were observing a forty-day fast. This particular observance set the intense catechetical discipline for preparing candidates for baptism. This period also allowed for reconciliation and restoration of those who because of sins were separated from the Church.
I have all of this Lent history in mind because I am preparing a message for Ash Wednesday which for us Christians today begins the season of Lent, 40 days of fasting, (beginning with Jesus' forty days in the wilderness), leading up to Easter. Don't worry the sermon will be much better :-). For myself and the disciples of my Church this season is both a private and a corporate experience. We will read devotionally on our own and also meet together weekly at a local park for prayer and discussion. The sermons for each Sunday in Lent will also follow our devotional materials.
I am borrowing a quote from Alexander Schmemann that I feel captures the unique parallels of the season. he writes of Lent, "A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet as we begin it, we make the first step into the 'bright sadness' of Lent, we see far, far away--the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the kingdom."
On Ash Wednesday I, along with my other Pastoral colleagues pronounce, "Repent and believe the Gospel," "Remember that you are dust and to the dust you shall return," and with these words mark foreheads with ashes in the sign of the cross. This year I will share the same message and same words but include an emphasis on God's GRACE. Yes this season makes us mindful of our mortality, and our sinfulness but we must not forget that by his suffering, death, and resurrection Jesus made a way possible for forgiveness and eternal life, beginning Now. We will take a look at the life lessons of king David beginning with Psalm 51.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
I was enjoying a skinny vanilla latte while browsing books in a local book store recently when I found a few lines of a poem that resonated with my soul. Maybe you will find inspiration within these lines that connect with you and align with what you are experiencing.
"IF" Rudyard Kipling, 1865 - 1936
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!