No, it's not your imagination; Easter is really late this year. Not quite the latest it can possibly be, that would be April 25th but 2019's date of April 21st is pretty close. I don't know about you, but it feels a little odd to pass through the entire month of February without pausing to mark the beginning of Lent. The way this season of preparation falls this year, Ash Wednesday is March 6th. Fairview will mark this day with a short prayer service during the lunch hour (the service with start at 12:15 and end about 12:45 - thereby giving participants who work time to get to and from).
As we've done for the past several years, Fairview's Mission Committee is encouraging everyone to bring a canned good a day over the 40 days of Lent (in good Presbyterian fashion, asking our members to take on a challenge, rather than merely depriving yourself of something, the way OTHER denominations do).
Speaking of denominations, the P.C. (U.S.A.) has designated the first Sunday in Lent as "Wear your blue t-shirt to church Sunday" as a testament to the way the One Great Hour of Sharing collection supports Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. The OGHS offerings, including coin-banks for children, are collected during Lent and up to Easter to provide relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and help to empower the poor and oppressed. When volunteers so up in the aftermath of natural disasters most of them wear matching blue t-shirts that read, "Out of chaos, Hope." To honor those efforts, and and visible witness of Christ, any churches that support this ministry are encouraged to wear blue during worship on March 10th.
I'd also like to encourage you to engage in a bit more Bible Study this Lenten season. The Adult Sunday School Class will spend the next six-weeks working through, "An Acceptable Fast: An Adult Lenten Study," by Old Testament scholar Patricia Tull. I will moderate our discussions of Lenten themes including: voice gratitude, taking the long view, choosing well, accepting responsibility, welcoming the future, and trusting God in times of conflict. Even if you are not a regular Sunday School participant, this is a chance to spend six weeks immersed in God's Word.
Now, for something completely different: on March 31st, Fairview will host Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, an ordained Anglican (Church of England) priest and scholar, visiting Atlanta as a guest of the Joining Hands for Justice in Israel & Palestine Partnership, a ministry of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. https://www.atlpcusa.org/Partnerships/JHJ.html Dr. Sizer is an expert in Christian Zionism and will be addressing our Sunday School class on that topic (we will suspend our Lenten topic for that Sunday and address it post-Easter) and preaching at our morning's worship. His sermon title is, "Who Is my Neighbor?" You can read more about Dr. Sizer here: www.stephensizer.com and www.peacemakers.ngo. I'm excited to host Dr. Sizer because, ordinarily, when commissions and partnerships from our presbytery invite special guests and scholars to speak at local conferences, they end up visiting the largest churches in our presbytery but our presbytery's leadership is trying to rectify this pattern and have offered this gift to the "Mother Kirk" of the presbytery.
I do pray that this Lenten season will be a chance to deepen your connections with your brothers and sisters in faith and with God.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. One last thought, I AM NOT proposing we replace the tapers we use at our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight service; it might be safer but phones pulsing to "Silent Night" just seems wrong.