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Lenten Reflection π

It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in…Isaiah 40:22

Today is jokingly referred to as “Pi Day” in that is it March 14. Depending on how you write calendar dates, it can be written as 3/14 or 3.14, which are the first three digits of the number Pi. This year being 2016, we can extend this into six digits: 3.1416, which is what Pi would be “rounded” to five digits. To celebrate, apparently people are eating pie. Silly? Of course it is. Still, it’s kind of fun.

Pi, or more appropriately, its Greek symbol “π” is used in mathematics to represent the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It’s also an “irrational” number. Those who know mathematics better than I can give a much more nuanced description, but the idea is that an irrational number is something that cannot be represented easily by conventional numbers. It’s also a “transcendent” number for similar reasons, although in my line of work “transcendent” is more a theological term. This is why the Greek symbol “π” is used, because our conventional decimal numerical system can’t adequately represent it.

Here’s where I tie it into theology, kind of: One of the questions I received on the offering plate was simple yet very profound: “What is God?” We use all kinds of language to talk about God, but human language is inadequate to completely encompass all of what God is. God transcends any definition or symbol we use. The symbols can point us to God, but are not God in and of themselves. In fact, we get in trouble when we take the symbol as definitive –in essence, we limit God to a given symbol.

At some point soon, I’d like to tackle this question in a sermon, but for now I need to leave it there. This coming Sunday is our Palm-to-Passion service, with reflections on Holy Week through music from the Choir. As such, while I will be offering some short reflections on the events and symbols of Holy Week as part of the service, the choir will be taking the lead using several works to help us as we begin the high point of the Christian calendar. I’m very much looking forward to it!

Yours in Christ,

John

Upcoming Events

  • Sunday, March 20th: Palm/Passion Sunday
    • On Palm-to-Passion Sunday the choir will be offering a special presentation in music marking the beginning of Holy Week.
  • Good Friday: March 25th, 10:30am
  • Easter Sunday: March 27th, 10:30am
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls Seminar
    • In cooperation with the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners (CALL), I will be offering a short course/seminar on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I have now confirmed a start date of Monday May 9th, and it will run for 5-6 sessions on Mondays from 7:15 to about 9pm.
  • Congregational Membership Classes
    • If you or someone you know would like to formalize membership with St. Matthew’s, I am hoping to run a membership class in the next few months. If you are interested, please email me, call me at the church, or speak with me directly on Sunday mornings.

Church Office Hours

Wendy’s regular office hours are Mondays, 11am-3pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday from 9am-3pm. During Holy Week itself, the office will be closed on Good Friday, as well as Easter Monday.

My regular office hours are Sunday through Thursdays from 9:00 to 12:30. While I am likely to be in the office in the afternoons Monday through Thursday, I may also be out on pastorals visits or meetings.

 

 

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