What a wonderful and difficult weekend we had! I kept expecting the storm to start late Saturday night and, in fact, got up during the night a couple of times to check. The snow really didn’t start coming down hard until around 9:00 AM on Sunday. I ended up with 11 inches of snow at home by Monday morning. I really do not like having worship cancelled but I also want people to be safe. (I heard that a local pastor friend of mine went into the ditch on Sunday morning as he tried to get to his first worship service.)
Anyway, this week marks the beginning of a time of preparation for Easter that the church calls “Lent”. It all begins tomorrow with “Ash Wednesday”. Ash Wednesday services are scheduled for 6:00 PM at Peace United Church and 7:30 PM at Grey Eagle UMC. As is our custom, ashes will be imposed on all willing to receive.
Here are a couple of interesting articles about Ash Wednesday and Lent that are quite informative about why some churches observe both, as we do.
What is Ash Wednesday?
How Lent can make a difference in your relationship with God.
Our readings for Ash Wednesday are:
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 – The prophet warns of impending doom but the Lord calls the people to repent and return.
OR Isaiah 58:1-12 – You might just finish the chapter through verse 14. The prophet calls the people to the proper worship of the Lord: loosing the bounds of injustice, freeing the oppressed, sharing food with the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, and clothing the naked.
Psalm 51:1-17 – The psalmist acknowledges his sin and asks for pardon and cleansing from God.
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 – This passage comes in a larger section that my Bible titles “The Ministry of Reconciliation”. God is at work in Christ to reconcile us to God but the choice is ours. If not now, when?
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 – This section, including missing verses 7-15 which is the “Lord’s Prayer”, comes from Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”. This sermon covers chapters 5, 6, and 7, and is the longest speech of Jesus in Matthew. Basically, Jesus says that our faith in giving, praying and fasting, need not be a public show because God knows.
Our readings for Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, are:
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 – Moses calls on the people to remember what the Lord has done for them by offering the first fruits of the land to the Lord and by reciting a short liturgy about God’s deeds.
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 – Psalm 91 provides the words for the much loved hymn “On Eagle’s Wings”. The psalmist knows and understands a God who will provide refuge and protection to all whom God calls.
Romans 10:8b-13 – Those who believe and confess Jesus as Lord will be surely saved.
Luke 4:1-13 – This past Sunday our Gospel lesson was about the transfiguration of Jesus. We now jump back in the story to read about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. This comes after Jesus was baptized (Luke 3:21) and the beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:14). The Gospel of Mark tells us nothing about Jesus’ time in the desert except to say that he was tempted. Matthew tells the same story as Luke but they differ in the order of the temptations. The temptations Jesus faced are the same we face: the temptation to care only for ourselves; the temptation to seek power; and the temptation to use scripture in a self-serving way or to turn away from God’s Way.
Have a great week serving God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor