Monday, February 22, 2021

 Calendar for Lent, Easter, Day of Pentecost 2021

February 17           Ash Wednesday
February 21.              First Sunday in Lent
February 28.             Second Sunday in Lent   

March 21.                 Last Sunday in Lent        

March 28.                  Palm Sunday.  [Combined Service Eng/Chines]

April 1.                    Maundy Thursday   Agape Feast and Foot Washing
                           To Be Announced
April 2.                Good Friday Noon Combined Service (TBA) 

April  3.               Easter Vigil at 8PM.    [Combined Service]

April 4                 Easter     0930 AM   
                           English Congregation Easter Brunch
                         11AM, and 1PM Easter Eggs 

April 11                2nd Sunday of Easter

April 18               3rd Sunday of Easter      
April 25               4th Sunday of Easter  [Combined Service]

May 2                  5th Sunday of Easter

May 9.                  6th Sunday of Easter       

May 16.                7th Sunday of Easter

May 23                 Day of Pentecost         

May 30                 First Sunday after Pentecost    Trinity Sunday

Lent 2021

Lent: Into the Wilderness, A walk on the Wild Side

 Lent calls us to forty days in the wilderness. It is 40 days spent on the wild side of temptations from within and from without. Temptations in the wilderness test our will to self-cravings and to the world’s allures verses the divine will to be we, to be us, to live in communion with others and the Other---the "I AM". 

 Lent calls us to a solitary walk, toward solidarity with Christ and neighbors who become kin through acts of solicitude. We walk through the wilderness towards God’s promised Land, toward our promised home. Lent is a trek that returns us to the garden. 

 In the Ash Wednesday service in the Book of Common Prayer:
                "I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer."

 These are the provisions that will sustain us on our journey in the wilderness of Lent, prayer, fasting, self-denial, meditation on scripture, giving of alms, readings of spiritual disciplines. These are our arms and shield to confront all of Satan’s tests while in the wilds.   Forty days in the outer lands of Lent is a time for us to turn toward our true self as seen from God's point of view.   It is not a time of turning from temptations.  It is period to turn to, not from.    

Lent is the moment when we are called to lift our head and eyes beyond our broken promises and broken dreams and to look toward forgiveness, and healing, and reunion with Love that transcends all understanding.  It is not only Thomas Wolf that calls angles to look homeward. Jesus calls us to look homeward in kinship with angels and as brothers, and sisters. 

 Think I’m going home! Think I’m going back to the place where I belong! No more thinking “about” going home; I’m going home! Home is on the other side of the wilderness. It is not in sadness that you and I face going home. 

 I remember when I was “let loose” from class; and I headed home after school that it was with a sense of excitement and joy.   I remember that the closer that I got to home that I began to skip, and then at the last, I would begin to run to Mom’s kitchen where she was ready to embrace me, and where gingerbread and milk began the feast. 

 Going home became a time for growing gladness and joyful expectation of homecoming’s loving embrace. Going home gave no space or time for guilt or shame or self-incriminations. As I walked, skipped, ran, all these fell away along the trek to my mother’s open kitchen door. 

I do believe that during our Lenten’s meditations of the “place and condition” of our lives that rather than turning inward to self, because that is where we are obsessively trapped already; let us turn outward toward God the Father and reflect upon going home! Let us reflect upon God the Father running to us as He sees us from afar. 

 A few years ago, I lead our elders’ English Bible class in a study of Henri J. M. Nouwen’s book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”. As I have been meditating on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, I see that it is a wonderful framework or foundation upon which to consider a new posture for Lent. It is a posture of coming to our senses and realizing that life is better at home, regardless of our self-made pig pens where we now suffer alienation.

 For in fasting, prayer, meditation, and alms giving, we discover that we have emptied ourselves of self.  Now there is room for Christ.   No.   Emptying our heart and mind of self, we discover that God has made His home within us!   What? 

 Yes, on the other side of Lent, we discover again, that God is at home within us. God has come to us while we were journeying to Him.   And the fast that I offer along the way home is what Isiah recommended: 

            “Why do we fast, but you do not see? 
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” 
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. 
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. 
Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. 
Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? 
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? 

Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 
 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, 
to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, 
and to break every yoke? 

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, 
and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, 
and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; 
your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; 
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.  [Isaiah 58:ff]

 May our observant of a holy Lent deliver us to a Lenten fast that restores us to harmony with God and mankind. Amen.