Lent, 2021

Hear ye, hear ye,

Dear friends

We will be reopening the church doors for worship services beginning this Sunday, February 21. While this does not apply to all Dioceses in the Province, here in the Diocese of Ontario we have been given permission to reopen our churches. As I have said before, this means that while many of you will come this Sunday, some of you, preferring to err on the side of caution, may decide to wait until you feel a little more comfortable before returning. That is fine. Either way, when you decide to come back you will be afforded a welcome. When to come back is a personal decision.

I want to say a word of thanks to our parish lay reader, Paul Hutt, for presiding at the service of Morning Prayer (virtually) these last four weeks. Our parish organist, Barb Pitman, joined Paul and provided music for that liturgy. Kudos to both of you for working together on this important effort. If you missed any of these services you can still have a look: facebook.com/StPaulsStMarksAnglican

This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent, a season that begins (officially) on Ash Wednesday, February 17. This coming Sunday, however, we will transfer the imposition of ashes, traditionally offered on Ash Wednesday, to the First Sunday in Lent. This will mean that all those who would like to experience the imposition of ashes will have a chance to be part of this rite at the Sunday gathering. I think it will be a meaningful experience for all who come and a reminder that the seasons of the church year are best experienced, prayed, dare I say, sung, together. While it may be a while yet before we can join in singing, I hope that having started up again, we might be able to continue meeting together without another interruption. Time will tell.

I believe the Collect for Ash Wednesday is perhaps the most beautiful and profound to be found in the Prayer Book. Let me quote just a few phrases:

"God you despise nothing you have made and forgive all who are penitent."

"Create in us new and contrite hearts."

The language is majestic and uplifting; both hopeful of the innate goodness of humanity but not shying away from the dark, stark reality that we all have work to do before we can live up to our being created in the very image of God. It seems that all too often we act as if we are so much better than the rest of the human race or, conversely, we have no intrinsic worth at all. Can it be that we are both good and fallen? I think so. I would put it this way: seen through God’s loving, forgiving eyes we are, damaged GOOD. The GOOD part of this phrase explains why forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel. God loves us from damaged to GOOD each day of our life.

The season of Lent has, through the centuries, afforded us the slow time of Lent to consider the deep truths of the faith. Of course, we know that much of this can be achieved through working on ourselves, individually, apart from one another. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need community and friendship in order to grow and prosper. There is nothing like gathering around a table with friends at meal time to make that meal a real celebration. If you are able, please join us around the fellowship table this Sunday at:

St. Mark’s, Bonarlaw (9:30am) or St. Paul’s, Marmora (11:00am).

Canon Bob

Serving Christ’s mission through compassionate service, intelligent faith, and godly worship.