Lent is a time of renewal. Jesus fasted for Forty Days and Forty Night in the Wilderness as Satan tempted him. Through this time Jesus was put to the test, forty being the biblical number symbolic of testing. During this time Jesus also renewed his relationship with the Father in order to launch his ministry.
During Lent there is a focus on sin. So often we hear about how God forgives and indeed He does but we must also recognize that He gives us freedom and sin is a bi-product of our inability to handle freedom. When we sin we impair our relationship with God. We also fall short of God’s hope and plan for us. This is where God’s grace comes in. God repairs our relationship with Him. However, we can do our part too, the exhortation for Ash Wednesday calls us to self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. I wish you all a Holy Lent.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As you all know, we will be saying farewell to Karen, our organist, choir director and friend, on Easter Day. If you would like to contribute to a gift for Karen, please write a check payable to ‘Grace Episcopal Church’ with ‘Karen’s Gift’ in the memo line and either drop it in the plate on Sunday mornings or by the parish office during the week.
Last Sunday I was able to announce that we have called a new Director of Music and Organist who will start the Sunday after Easter at Grace Church. Wendy Oesterling comes to us from Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Middleburg, where she has played the organ and directed the choir for 25 years. She also directs the Piedmont Singers, a semi-professional choir who operate out of Grace, The Plains – Wendy describes them as a “Ministry Choir”.
A common theme that I have heard from all of Wendy’s references is that Wendy sees her role as one of ministry and tries to involve as many people as possible. She is also well-known for bringing new people in.
Wendy will be worshiping with us until she starts to learn how our services flow. She will also be playing for the noonday services on Wednesdays during Lent. Wendy will be joined at Grace by her husband Jim who is originally from Northern Ireland and came to the USA by way of London and Canada. Please join me in welcoming Wendy and Jim to the Clarke Parish family.
Side Note: As you all know by now, we will be saying farewell to Karen, our organist, choir director and friend, on Easter Day. If you would like to contribute to a gift for Karen, please write a check payable to “Grace Episcopal Church” with “Karen’s Gift” in the memo line and either drop it in the plate on Sunday or drop it by the parish office.
This week is marked by Christians throughout the world as Christian Unity Week. It is the week when we celebrate what binds us together rather than what divides us. Of course, the glue that keeps us together is the unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ, Our Lord. We are bound together by our common mission to do the work that God has set before us. Tonight, many of our parishioners will volunteer at WATTS which we do in concert with our brother and siter Christians here in Berryville throughout this week. This Sunday is the annual pulpit swap when you will be joined by The Rev. Jim Smith from Duncan United Methodist Church and I will be joining the congregations of the Boyce, White Post, Millwood United Methodist Ministries.
A while back Pastor Larry Santmyer sent an email to the Clarke County Ministerial Association and he signed off “doing together what none of us can do alone” – isn’t that the truth? So, during this week of Christian Unity let us focus on that which unifies us, not that which divides us, in church, politics or other ideologies. Jesus is bigger than those things and he’s bigger than us.
Happy New Year! As we leave the Christmas season behind us for another year and enter the season of Epiphany we are reminded of the gift of having a season of light that speaks to us in this otherwise dark time of year. Jesus is the light of the world and during Epiphany we celebrate God’s abiding presence through becoming human in Jesus Christ. I wish you every blessing as we set out upon this new year.
Quiet – something we all long for at this time of year. The secular world seems to be in overdrive, heading full speed towards Christmas and trying to drag us along with it. Yet we are only at John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, the forerunner of Christ. We long for quiet and that is what the Church can offer us during this, otherwise busy, season. We can sit in the still of an empty church or in a church that is full and in the midst of worship and find God in the midst.
This coming Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent, it is the pink Sunday, commonly known as Gaudete, which literally means “rejoice”. It is the Sunday that we will light the pink candle. In the early Church and in some Anglo Catholic parishes today, the clergy even wear Rose Colored vestments and the altar is adorned in Rose Color. This was a Sunday during and otherwise penitential season when one could take a break from the fast and celebrate. The other such Sunday – also a Rose Sunday – was the fourth Sunday in Lent. So to all of you I say Gaudete – rejoice!
We now enter the season of longing and waiting for Our Lord. Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. It also marks a time where our focus in our readings from scripture take a more apocalyptic turn and the focus is not only on the coming of the babe in a manger but also on the second coming of Christ.
There are lots of opportunities to allow oneself to enter into a season of contemplation and meditation here in Clarke Parish, for example our Taize Services that start up again this Saturday at 5pm and run throughout Advent at St. Mary’s. Then there is the Advent Quiet Afternoon at Grace on Saturday December 14th from 2-4:45.
December can be a busy time in the secular world but please find some time for prayer and contemplation. I wish you all a blessed Advent.
Tuesday Coffee Shop Hours Justin will be in Cordial Coffee from 10:30-12:30 each Tuesday. Please drop by and invite any non-church goers you know to drop by for coffee and a chat. Just look for the tabletop blackboard.