Sunday, January 27, 2008

The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light. Matthew 4:16

This year our Church calendar is on a particularly fast track – only thirty-one days from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday. As a result, I find myself writing to you in the afterglow of Epiphany, while you read this in Lent. To avoid liturgical whiplash, and before the memory fades, let’s try to put these events together in some perspective.

Webster tells us that an epiphany is a sudden understanding of a subject that was previously obscured. The Epiphany of the Magi was not a spur of the moment revelation. These scholar kings devoted their lives to studying the heavens, searching the dark for points of light that would inform them of some heavenly purpose for life on earth. In Christ our daily lives are replete with very clear messages if we take time to read them.

Our Epiphany Pageant at St. Peter’s was a clear message of the sublime satisfaction of a life well spent in service to God and neighbor. The Right Reverend Rodney Michel returned to us as guest preacher, celebrant and recipient of the St. Peter’s medal. The deep affection, appreciation and respect that greeted Bishop and Mrs. Michel spoke volumes on the bonds between a good shepherd and his grateful congregation -- another magic (as in Magi) moment at St. Peter’s.

Then came our Annual Meeting, so well organized and administered by both of our Wardens and Vestry Members. Thank you. There must be a special place in heaven for those who do the job of keeping the rest of us on task and on schedule. Thanks also to everyone who participated. The collected wisdom and insights of the parish invaluably inform our decisions. The combined energy, candor, civility and forbearance of the discourse reflected both the passion we all bring to serving the parish and the regard we owe each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We spoke directly but respectfully to one another and came out the stronger for it. Then as the living body of Christ we came together and were fortified by The Eucharist so that we might get back to work refreshed and renewed.

Love at work, Christ at work in our parish family --- we need these signposts. We need to hold on to them tightly as we head into the wilderness of Lent and the challenges of outreach and faith formation, of growth and deficits, of change and fidelity, of seeking God’s help and direction. Knowing all the distractions and obligations of our lives, we all can’t plunge into Lent. But we can make it a prayerful part of our day, to focus on the signs around us. There are 1440 minutes in a day. Let’s start by taking five of them to quietly be alone with God. Acknowledge Him. Worship Him. Ask His help. Seek His forgiveness. Shelter in His protection.

Come join us for our weekday Lenten services. Or just come and sit a few minutes in quiet prayer and reflection. Be still, then, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46) So like the Magi staring into the heavens, we can connect the dots in the darkness and see God’s light shining all around us. No GPS or On-Star Navigation needed. Just a few quiet moments alone with God -- it’s amazing how it puts everything in perspective.

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