We have entered into the penitential season of Lent when we ask the Lord to conform our hearts and minds to His will, repenting of our sins.
I wanted to thank the men for putting on an excellent Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. It seemed like everyone had a great time, and I was sorry that I had to leave so early.
Thank you for your prayers as I've recovered from this nasty bug. Please continue to pray for everyone in the congregation, as it seems others have had it as well.
As a reminder, Adult Christian Education is being held on Sunday mornings at 9 am. This coming week we will be finishing the Ten Commandments and starting with church history. I am hoping to get through the first four ecumenical councils, although, we may not get that far.
Starting next Wednesday, February 21, we will have soup suppers after Evensong. During the suppers, I will be taking your questions about the Anglican Tradition and the Christian Faith. I am hoping to have a few questions to start us off with, so if you've been wondering about something for quite some time, please let me know, and we can tackle your question first!
If you are interested in bringing soup or bread, there is a sign-up sheet posted in the parish hall.
Monthly Sunday Brunch
I've been aware that it's difficult for some folks to attend the monthly offsite brunch. The ladies have been in charge of planning these, and I asked them to consider other options. They thought an onsite brunch would be a good idea, and so we're going to give it a try this month and see how it goes. We will be ordering a few pizzas. If you can afford it, there'll be a jar for donations for lunch. I will try to explain this further on Sunday, or please let me know if you have any questions.
Our first brunch will be on February 25th after the service.
Hope in a dark world
This morning as I listened to the news, I shared in the horror and sorrow that many of you felt as we learned of yet another school shooting yesterday. As the reporter lamented, do we even care any more? Have we grown numb? A part of me wondered if I had become numb as well? He bemoaned that this isn't the first or even the second, but in fact, the 18th incident this year, though by far the most deadly. In times like these, it is natural to wonder what is happening in our society. Have young men lost so much hope that they feel the only way out is through violence?
As I continued to listen to the news on the way to work this morning, I was struck by what was, I am sure, meant to be a lighter piece about how a growing amount of fine art is being stored in boxes in warehouses as investments for the very rich. The report ended with the following conversation: "you just turned off the light, do you keep it in darkness?"
"yes ma'am, absolutely," responds the man she's interviewing.
The darkness of the warehouse stood as an intriguing allegory to the more horrific story about the most recent bought of school violence. As the story came to an end, I couldn't help but think of our cultural darkness.
Is all hope lost?
Certainly not, as we observed Ash Wednesday last night, I was struck with a thought, while placing ashen crosses on many of your foreheads. Did you realize that these crosses are the antithesis of the priestly blessing? On your birthday or while you're sick in the hospital, the priest prays "may the blessing of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost be with you evermore." He gently makes the sign of a small cross on your forehead as a reminder that life comes from Christ's death on the cross and his resurrection three days later. The ashen crosses, on the other hand, tell us that we are dead in our transgressions.
As we moved from the imposition of ashes into the Holy Communion liturgy, I thought of how the Holy Spirit draws us into the spiritual presence of Christ. How, even though we are born into sin, in our baptism we are reborn into the life of Christ. We can cling to this hope, even in the darkest of days. Isn't that beautiful? Though we began with a reminder of how sin is death, that then we were drawn into spiritual communion with Christ?
But what about the cultural darkness of our day? The issues facing schools in our country is overwhelmingly complicated, but I think there is one thing we can be doing as Christians. We are called to be beacons of hope. We are not to be stored up in boxes, hidden away in some dark warehouse, but letting our lights shine. I believe that if we faithfully follow Christ, he will change the hearts of those with whom we interact and be hope when they are struggling.
The gospel lesson ended last night with a reminder: lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Let us, therefore, store our treasures up in heaven. Let us be beacons of Christ's hope in the darkness of the world.
I know this was a bit long, and thank you for bearing with me. Please know, if you need a friend, if you need to talk about something that you are struggling with, or if things just seem too difficult, I am always available. Please pick up the phone or send me an email.
Be well, and as always, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
The Rev. Ian Emile Dunn
All Saints Anglican Church