St. Mark’s Episcopal
The season of Lent, the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Saturday (not counting Sundays), was for many a time of penance: a deeper awareness of our shortcomings and a resolution to change our ways. Two of the penitential behaviors of Lent, in particular, are fasting (limiting the amount of food eaten) and abstinence (abstaining from eating meat). Like many other religious traditions, Christians see this denial of physical gratification, which can also take the form of giving up favorite foods or alcohol, as a way to cleanse the soul, to draw closer to God . Former St. Mark’s Rector Dan Burner suggested that perhaps instead of giving up these pleasures, we focus our Lenten efforts on breaking down the barriers that tend to separate us from our fellow men, the habits that lead us away from God.
In response to this suggestion, one parishioner forgoes sarcasm and criticism, choosing instead to be deliberately nice even to people who normally irritate him. He later reported that this practice had unexpected (and often fun) shock value. Perhaps Reverend Burner’s suggestion can be seen as a restatement of something Mark Twain would have said: “Always do the right thing. It will satisfy some people and amaze others.” Not an unworthy aspiration for this season of Lent.
The season of Lent will begin in St. Mark’s on March 2, Ash Wednesday, which takes its name from the custom of placing ashes (made by burning Palm Sunday palm fronds from the previous year) on the forehead of faithful. The ashes serve as a reminder of our mortality – and a mark of penance to begin the contemplative season of Lent.
Please join us at noon that day for the imposition of ashes – to begin the season of Lenten reflection. Everyone is welcome!
Milo Center Methodist
We are very grateful to provide our outreach mission for lunches at The Well. Thanks to Karen Hallings, Jeannine Andersen, Jill Henderson and Candy Bezek for this month. High prayers for the Youngs and Cleveland families as they mourn a loved one. Love sent to Craig & Sue Prior, Steve Eskildsen and Dale Welker.
Our March collection will be aimed at our furry friends via Pet Partners Connection. The annual Chicken BBQ is planned and in planning. Mark your calendars for Saturday, June 11. A five-week Lenten Bible study will begin via Zoom on March 2. What God has done to win your heart is the subject. We will partner with Branchport UMC.
Pastor Kim spoke about the Golden Rule this week. From the Exodus in the Bible, we read that it is a question of revenge; in the book of Luke we are reminded to spread love and kindness as we wish to receive it. Love is an action; it’s a choice we make with every interaction we have. Jesus chose nails to save us; it seems we can choose kindness. It may save another. Life is an echo, what you send will come back to you. What would you like to receive?
LeTourneau Christian Center
Attention homeschoolers, join us March 22 from 2-4 p.m. This event is for homeschool students aged 5-18. Students will be divided into an older and younger group. Half of this time will be spent learning basic locomotor and non-locomotor movements, followed by an activity called Hullabaloo! It’s a crazy, wild and energetic game we created to practice those motor skills while working with others and having fun. The other half of the time will be hanging out with friends in our recreation room while having a snack and playing ping pong, foosball, ball mat, board games and more.
First Presbyterian Church
Lent, which begins on March 2, is an interesting time in the liturgical calendar. Most other significant Christian events observed or celebrated are traceable and clearly documented in the Bible. Lent is never mentioned. Although there is evidence of some preparations before Easter, Lent was not a definite event. The period of Lent and its rules were not established until much later. It started with the “legalization” of Christianity in 313 AD. In early Christianity, various sects emerged in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, so different practices were common and there was an internal struggle for superiority. Eventually the leaders realized that similar sects had to begin working together to create uniformity in the teaching of doctrine and rules of worship, if Christianity was to survive. A Council composed of 318 bishops was formed. The first discussion to formalize Lent took place at their first meeting in AD 325, at Nicaea, where a disciplinary canon was proposed. Towards the end of the fourth century, the length of forty days and the elements of Lent were codified by the church.
The New Testament Gospels often mention the practices that laid the foundation for Lent: fasting, prayer, and charity. Biblical scholars note the apostolic origins citing the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert to prepare for his ministry on Earth. The Council of Nicaea honored Jesus by considering Lent to be 40 days long. It gives people the same time to identify with the suffering of Jesus, intensify our focus on the spiritual, and show our commitment to repentance, thereby bringing us closer to God.
The rules regarding Lent have been relaxed over the years with many changes to the world today. The current practices of Lent are sometimes seen as a time to “reset” priorities. Not all practice fasting; some may choose to “give up” certain foods, an activity we enjoy, or a bad habit. In 2019, the top three things to give up for Lent (in order) were: social media, alcohol, and Twitter! Our sacrifice should involve true self-denial with the intention of promoting spiritual awakening. How many Christians today devote time to daily prayer? Too many of us (pre-COVID) were already overloaded with activity. Add to that email, social media, Zoom, online browsing, games, etc. Perhaps during Lent, a second commitment could be to get away from technology for half an hour each day to focus on spirituality through prayer. Third, the practice of charity and almsgiving allows us to come full circle. With 40 Days of Lent, commit to volunteering with a charity for 40 hours. Donate $40 to a good cause. Craft something to feed 40 people and donate it to an event. Take the “40 items/bags in 40 days” challenge. Every day for 40 days, choose an area of your home and select unnecessary items and clothing. After 40 days, try to end up with 40 items or 40 bags/boxes to give away. You declutter and simplify while helping others in need. Although practices have changed over the centuries, the purpose of Lent remains constant: repentance of our shortcomings, recognition of the need for humanity in others, and renewal of our faith.
Penn Yan First Baptist
The painting of our sanctuary is progressing well and is in its final stages. It’s bright and fresh. The team is finishing the details and finishes, but the scaffolding is gone. We continue to meet for worship in the Great Hall.
Our pulpit supply schedule for the month of March will be: March 6, Rev. Don Lawrence; March 13, Mark Slomski; March 20, Mark Slomski; March 27, Rev. Dr. John R. Tharp. Our adult Bible study class will meet on March 6 and 20 to study the words of Jesus.
This month we are focusing on the America for Christ offering reaching people across the United States and Puerto Rico. Our goal this year is to raise $600.
Bluff Point Methodist
Covid cases are decreasing and we will soon start more of our usual activities. Communion after church will begin on March 6 and Sunday school on March 13. Hopefully the Covid numbers stay low.
Pastor Sandi’s lesson last week was on living water, based on the scripture in John 7:37-52, “Thirsty ones come to me!” In this scripture we see where Nicodemus stood up for Jesus. Others may not have thought that Jesus was worthy. We also looked at the Living Water, the Word of Jesus. In our country these days, we are blessed with enough clean water to wash, drink and comfort us. We need water to survive. Water allows us to swim, bathe and even water our grass in the summer or wash our cars. What do we do with the water that fills us? We use water for grace and food. We use it to take care of others. As in the scripture, if you allow me to fill you, I will give you what you need. Water accumulates so that we can give to others. It all comes from Jesus, as Pastor Sandi notes. We all have a part to play, and when we are kind, brave, and bold, we grant the grace of Jesus. Pastor Sandi gave us homework to study when we are dumped. Is it with prayers? Is it morning or evening? When we see division, what can we pour into it, in the name of Jesus? How do you react to show the love of Jesus?
It’s good to see more back in the sanctuary for Sunday services, and that we can all sing again in church. Prayers that this phase of Covid stays behind us with no more variations. Please come if you can help with Sunday school or snacks.