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Focusing on love as the Way to follow Jesus

During Epiphany, you have been hearing me talk a lot about ‘rooted discipleship’ and the practices of prayer, study, giving, sharing, and serving. We also had the opportunity to attend the showing of ‘A Case for Love,’ a documentary film based on the insights and vision of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on selfless love. I am grateful for the vision and work of the Episcopal Church in focusing on love as the Way to follow Jesus through rest, learning, turning, blessing, and worship. Working with five points is a popular and simple way to remember the Way of Love. They are practices that Jesus offers us in Mark’s gospel:

Prayer: at the very beginning, in Mark 1, we hear of Jesus’ daily practice: ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.’ If you feel like you need to relearn the basics, pick up ‘Just Praying’ at church.

Study: Jesus taught in parables and, in Mark, often concealed the significance of his words directed to his disciples. It takes some study to hear and understand teaching from one context to our own. There are always some materials at church, such as Forward Movement, to help you along.

Serving: Peter’s mother-in-law taught us that serving isn’t only for women or specific people, but for us all. We are to follow Jesus’ way of serving others, not being served. That takes some practice.

Sharing: church is a place to gather and welcome everyone, and to learn from and with others. How about committing to attending church every Sunday of Lent, or every day during Holy Week, to share with others this Lenten journey?

Giving: our church community speaks of giving time, treasure, and talent. There are many ways to do this inside and outside the church. We have opportunities for giving your time to garden, flower arrange, visit shut-ins, do some house cleaning at church, organize a gathering for a meal, for Dinner Church or brunch on Easter Sunday. Let us know!

The 40 days of Lent (not including Sundays, which are days of celebration) begin on Ash Wednesday, when we receive a smudged, black cross on our foreheads made from the ashes of last year’s palms. Our services will be at midday and with music at 6.30pm. Lent ends on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Lent is a time of preparation, an opportunity to go deeper with God, especially to examine our practices of prayer, giving and fasting (abstaining from something to focus more on God). Fasting could mean taking up something (perhaps more prayer, reading a book of devotions or spirituality, giving our time, talent, and treasure to something specific for the duration of Lent). Lent is an opportunity offered in the church year for preparation of our hearts and minds for Palm Sunday, the events of Holy Week and the Triduum: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Easter.

Plan to join us during Holy Week. Not just on Palm Sunday at 11 am, but perhaps at midday on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Consider walking through the events of Holy Week by coming to each of the Triduum services: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Saturday Vigil. There has not been a Holy week when I haven’t gained new insight and deepening of my own faith. I’d love you to join me!

With much love,
Rev Helen

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