Dear friends,


There are a couple of oddities in the calendar for 2018. February 14 this year was not only Valentine’s Day, but also Ash Wednesday, a day of penitence in which we focus on our mortality. And looking ahead, April 1 is not only April Fools Day. It is also the most significant occasion on the church calendar, the Day of Resurrection, known by most people as Easter Sunday.

I kept my ears open on February 14. I heard a lot of people talking about their plans for Valentine’s Day. But I heard almost nothing about it also being Ash Wednesday. It so happened that a horrible tragedy took place that day in Parkland, Florida, in which a gunman killed some seventeen people at a high school. Perhaps, like me, you saw a photo in the newspaper on the following morning in which a distraught woman in Florida has the sign of the cross on her forehead. No doubt, she had taken part in an Ash Wednesday service earlier in the day.

Ash Wednesday begins a season called Lent. It’s six weeks that lead all the way up to the joyful celebration of the resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday. It’s a time for us to focus on what took place prior to the resurrection, especially Jesus’ suffering on our behalf. Over the years, Lent has been a season for enhanced spiritual disciplines. Often, we ask one another, "What are you giving up for Lent this year?"

On the meaning of the season of Lent, I have a quotation for you to read and think over. It comes from Pope Leo the Great (A.D. 440-461). He says this:


Lent is appointed to prepare souls for the faithful commemoration of the Mystery of Easter; as a time for inner purification and sanctification, of repentance for sins past, of breaking off of sinful habits, of the exercise of virtues, especially works of charity and love, reconciliation, and the laying aside of enmity and hatred.

May this be for all of us a time in which we do the very things that Leo is talking about.


God’s blessings on you,

Gale Watkins, Pastor