Lent has begun, and at least for myself, in a rather unexpected way. As I mentioned in my letter last week, I was in Ontario to attend and preside at my Uncle’s funeral. While my uncle was not a church going man at all, the timing worked out that his funeral would be on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. For me, that was my Ash Wednesday service, a reminder of how fragile and precious life can be; from dust we come, to dust we return, as the liturgical prayer goes.
Yet Lent itself is not necessarily a time of self-flagellation or self-deprivation. While it is customary for Christians to give up something during Lent, as an act of self-sacrifice, the reasons behind it are far more profound. In the early church, the time before Easter that would eventually evolve into Lent, was a time of reflection and preparation for baptism. New Christians would be baptized at Easter celebrations, so the time was for those preparing for a major step in their lives. Often people would spend time in fasting and in prayer, but it was in preparation for their baptism. Existing Christians in these communities often joined with the baptismal candidates in this fasting and prayer. Over time, the preparation for baptism part was forgotten, and it was assumed that we would “give up something for Lent” as a commemoration of what Jesus gave up for us.
Perhaps this Lent we might reclaim a bit of what those early Christians understood. That Lent was a time of preparation for baptism: which meant preparing for new life. The symbolism of dying to our old way of being and becoming a new creation in Christ is embodied in entering and then emerging from the water. So this Lent, how are we moving towards transformation? How are we seeking to become new people?
I am back in the office this shortened week. This coming Sunday is the celebration of communion!
Yours in Christ,
- Sunday, February 21st: Celebration of Communion
- The Taming of the Shrew, Mondays at 10am in the Conference Room.
- Sunday, March 6th: Annual General Meeting
- Sunday, March 20th: Palm/Passion Sunday
- On Palm/Passion Sunday the choir will be offering a special presentation in music marking the beginning of Holy Week.
- 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. While the exact start date still needs to be confirmed, this course will run for approximately five weeks between May and early June.
- 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.
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.