A NOTE FROM PASTOR MARK
Genesis 1:1-5 1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
God gave the gift of days. In those days we have time and in time we have memory, the story of life. Memories are separated from each other and marked by time. With time we keep track of where we have been and estimate how far we have to go. With time we judge and evaluate and make decisions. With time we remember both good and bad experiences. Time can heal and time can harm. There are the times we tightly hold and those we wish to forget. Every day contains time measured in hours, minutes, and seconds. What we do within that time is what we have as a gift from God.
Time is finite in the infinite realm of God. We live in God’s reality with one foot in the finite walking toward the infinite. We often live as though we are the gods of our own time. We think we can control and make time. In truth, we cannot! Who can make the sun to set or rise, to make a day? Who can set in motion the rotation of the earth around the sun making years? God is the one who created out of everything, separating this from that and put it all into the motion of time.
I am writing about time today because I was thinking about the seasons of Advent and Lent. Both seasons are measured with days. Advent is 4 weeks long and Lent is 40 days, not counting Sundays. In the weeks of Advent, we prepared for the birth of Jesus Christ through study, prayer, and worship. In Lent and Easter, we prepare for the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in much the same way. These two seasons for the church have been used for more than millennium to help the church understand and remember God’s willingness to walk within time. God was willing to be born and to die. God was willing to mark days and to celebrate the seasons of life. God, as Jesus, was willing to love and hold onto family, friends, and others with the days he had. God was willing to let go and to embrace the anguish of a finite world marked by the days of time. God appears to the world and gives the keys to eternal life. God breaks the chains of time and gives the infinite to a finite world. In the reformed tradition we remember that every Sunday is Easter. Every Sunday we remember that even though we live in a finite world we also live in the eternal kingdom of God. Every Sunday we remind each other that, “this is the day that the Lord has made and so, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” As we remember and practice the disciplines of Advent and Lent, we are reminded that God is the God of our daily lives, now and forever more.
We have been given this wonderful gift of evening and morning, a day. So, let us live each day, each moment with God as the God of our finite world as we humble ourselves to God and love each other as we would like to be loved.
In the Grace and Peace of Jesus Christ,
AN INVITATION TO OBSERVE LENT.
The Hebrew word, shalom is often translated as peace. This deep and powerful idea will guide our Lenten observances. As we did for Advent, a take-out bag is being prepared so that you can have a spiritually rich experience right from your home.
On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (February 14) Lenten bags will be available for each household. They are full of resources to ground yourself in prayer, study, reflection, action, and worship, including a daily devotional, a calendar of activities and worship materials for the special worship opportunities which will lead us up to Easter Sunday.
You will be able to pick up your bag at church on Sunday Feb. 14th, before or after worship. If you need your bag delivered, let the office know and we will be happy to bring it to you. There may be a few extra bags, if you have a friend or neighbor that you are sure would be blessed by one.
A special Ash Wednesday will be prerecorded and posted to Facebook and YouTube on that morning (Feb. 17th). For those who would like a special in-person blessing, Rev. Olson will be available at the church between noon and 1 pm. Bring the ashes that are in your bag.
Here is the introduction for the resource we will be drawing from, Presbyterians Today Magazine Lenten Devotional 2021
Lenten Devotional 2021 The Way to Shalom; A Lenten Journey to Peace and Wholeness
Lent is a time of spiritual renewal. It is a season of preparation during the 40 days and six Sundays before Easter. Lent is a time when we reflect upon the love of God and the gift of God’s grace. It has a solemn beginning with Ash Wednesday, which is on Feb. 17 this year. On that day, with burnt palm branches crushed into ashes smudged onto foreheads, we are reminded that “from dust you came and to dust you shall return.”
But Lent is not a time to wallow in worry about God’s wrath. It is not a time of anxiety about our sinfulness or worth. Lent is a time of reflection on what God has done to redeem us and how we can live a whole and full life as a child of God. The Apostle Paul counsels us in Philippians 4: “Have no anxiety about anything” (RSV).
A different Lenten focus for 2021
While Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, service and contemplation, at the top of our list should be a prayer for the acquisition of peace. This year for the season of Lent, we invite you to reflect upon the gift of shalom, the Hebrew word for peace. In the Bible, shalom can be translated not only as peace, but also as tranquility, security, well-being, health, welfare, completeness and safety. How can we receive this gift of shalom and, in turn, bestow it upon the world?
In Israel, shalom is both a greeting and a farewell. When greeted by “shalom,” it is a form of hopeful blessing that you are filled with God’s perfect peace and well-being. It is a prayer that you will have health, prosperity and peace of mind and spirit. Shalom denotes fullness and perfection, an overflowing joy that moves from your innermost being and is expressed in the way you live your life and engage with others.
The season of Lent moves us to reflect deeply upon shalom. We live in a world in desperate need of peace. The United States has just come out of a contentious election while struggling with a global pandemic and grappling with racial violence. Poverty, misery and despair fill many corners of the world. Violence holds a vicious grip on the lives of many people. We desire peace. We need peace. We must pray — and work — for peace here in the U.S. as well as in other parts of the world. The need for peace is a global one, and this devotional will raise awareness of our brothers and sisters who are living in areas around the world that are filled with conflict and strife.
To obtain peace, though, we must explore the full extent of its meaning. The search for shalom must examine it as relational, connectional and communal. It is relational wherein my peace cannot be achieved if others are denied what makes them whole. It recognizes that what impacts you impacts me. It is connectional in that it begins with a recognition that we are children of God created “in the image and likeness of God.” Shalom is communal in that it builds community and enables us to live as one. Scripture proclaims the need for shalom. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, blesses us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27a).
This Lent, let us make our way to shalom — a gift that will bless one another and the world. — Jimmie Hawkins
The entire devotion is free to copy and use and can be downloaded from the following web link:www.presbyterianmission.org
The book club will be meeting on February 11, 2021 at 1:00 at the church. The book this month is “Forever” by Pete Hamill. Discussion will be led by Deanna Stanford.
This widely acclaimed bestseller is the magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains . . . forever.
Through the eyes of Cormac O'Connor -- granted immortality as long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan -- we watch New York grow from a tiny settlement on the tip of an untamed wilderness to the thriving metropolis of today. And through Cormac's remarkable adventures in both love and war, we come to know the city's buried secrets -- the way it has been shaped by greed, race, and waves of immigration, by the unleashing of enormous human energies, and, above all, by hope. (Amazon review)
Georgia – February 2
Deanna – February 5
Karla – February 10
Kriss – February 18
Mary – February 19
John – February 22
Marlene – February 25
Philip – February 25
Beginning on Sunday February 7th, Zoom prayer meeting will begin right after worship. If you attend in person, you can stay for prayer time. If you attend via zoom, you can stay on and we will move to a time of prayer for each other’s needs.
We hope this time frame allows for greater participation and for a deeper level of knowing and praying for one another.
The worship service is recorded and posted online so we have refrained from including personal prayer in the service, to protect sensitive information. This prayer time will not be recorded or posted.