This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!
Dear Friends and Partners in the Gospel:
These words, reminiscent of those spoken to Jesus at his baptism, are spoken out of the cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration, where the disciples Peter, James and John have just experienced the last of the wonders known as the Epiphany. The first, recorded only in Matthew’s Gospel, was the story of the star that led the Magi to discover the infant Jesus. The second was the day when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, and had a great revelation of who he is. This third manifestation of Jesus as the anointed one of God is the last event celebrated by the church before the Season of Lent begins. Thus the Gospel writers set the stage for the dramatic story of Jesus’ confrontation with the demonic powers of his day, culminating in his willing sacrifice of his own life to bring life to the world.
Ash Wednesday feels early this year, when it oddly coincides with Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2018. The Word for the season following is “Lent,” which means “springtime,” though it doesn’t yet feel very much like spring. Within the church, the Lenten Season is a time of reflection, when we examine our own lives as individuals and as a fellowship of faith in the context of remembering Jesus. In this season, we give attention to the word spoken to Jesus’ followers on the mountain, calling us to pay attention to the one who has taught us how to love, inviting us to “Listen to him!”
During the Lenten Season this year, we will be bringing canned goods to the church for an offering to be given to Feed My People, our local outreach for people in need of food assistance. Monetary offerings are also welcome for this agency, which involves many church volunteers and goes beyond the simple distribution of food to provide an array of social services, vocational training and assistance, and referrals for people in financial need. Remembering the hunger of our world is more than charity for us at this time of year; it is part of the lenten discipline to reflect upon the hungry world that Jesus loved, and to reach out with help in remembrance of him.
The coincidence of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday provides a special though unusual opportunity for what promises to be an enjoyable fellowship event at St Philip’s: At 4:30 that day, our Wednesday after-school Logos group will be meeting for their usual lessons and activities, focused on Valentine’s Day. At about 5:45 p.m., we will be having a potluck dinner for all members of the church and, Logos families, in the church’s gathering area. Following the dinner, at 6:30 p.m., everyone is invited to share in the Ash Wednesday service in the sanctuary. This service will be done in a family-friendly spirit. Reflecting on Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love (and a day that actually has Christian origins), we will be interpreting the observance of Ash Wednesday as a time for remembering our calling to care for one another. The ashes used in the service will be interpreted as an expression of our love and God’s love for all of us.
We look forward to sharing this sacred time together.
Allen M. Fluent