The Rector’s February Letter

Dear Friends in Christ,        I would be very surprised if ever over the past thirty years of writing the front page for the Saint Mary’s Messenger I have failed to address the issue of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. The reason for this is the centrality of Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is what gives meaning to the life of the Christian and, I would argue, the life of the world. If the Resurrection is not true, then as Saint Paul says, “we of all people are most to be pitied.” Because Jesus being raised from the dead is true, it logically follows that a season of preparation culminating with Palm Sunday and Holy Week must precede the most important event in the history of the Cosmos.  After all, even the World Series begins with spring training.          One of the great gifts of Lent is that it highlights the tension between chaos and order, between preparation and being thrown into the thick of it. To begin with the date of Ash Wednesday moves annually based on the lunar calendar. This year Ash Wednesday is the 18th of February whether we are ready or not. Our lives can be in a relatively stable place or we might be experiencing problems right and left. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find ourselves under the discipline of the Church. If chaos has the seemingly upper hand then the gift of Lenten devotions and practices provides structure in stressful times. If things are relatively “normal” then these forty days provide an opportunity to dive deeper into discipleship, into dying to self so that “we might grow into the full stature of Christ.”          Choosing how best to keep Lent is a personal discernment. The clergy and fellow parishioners would be honored to help you think through how best to keep a Holy Lent. You don’t have to figure it out by yourself.          Three recommendations from me: (1) Make sure that you are in church on Ash Wednesday so that you are reminded that your life is of inestimable worth to God as we are reminded of our mortality. (2) Make Holy Week liturgies a priority now at the beginning of Lent so that by the end of Lent, starting with Palm Sunday, you walk the way of the Cross with Jesus. (3) Consider saying your individual confession, especially if you find yourself burdened with shame, guilt, anger, lust, despair, or any of the myriad things that weigh on our hearts. God wants nothing more than to set you free from those burdens. What’s more is that God has the power do it. God’s ability to forgive is always greater than our ability to sin.          May the Peace of the Lord always be with you.     Faithfully,  Andrew+