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Come as a stranger, leave as a friend

11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:12

        Passages from the Hebrew Bible, specifically, The Song of Solomon are read at the beginning or end of the Seder meal during Passover. These passages are read to recognize the coming of spring.  The “voice of the turtle” is not referring to an actual turtle, but is referring to a bird, the turtle dove, popular in Israel. When the turtle doves appear, it means spring is coming.

        For the most part, I think, we have had a very mild winter. However, the three weeks of rain and overcast conditions we had in January were really tough. I think some of us may have a touch of seasonal mood disorder. I do not want to make light of those who are medically diagnosed with the disorder, but by the end of February, beginning of March many of us tend to slip into the funk of cabin fever. We need warmth and sunlight.

        The season of Lent came very early this year.  Lent and Easter are always a moving date, it is not fixed like Christmas. The date for Easter is based on Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon after the spring equinox, when the northern and southern hemisphere shares the sun equally. It happens on March 19th this year. Pretty cool stuff.       

        February and March seem like a good time to have Lent.  Everything seems grey and drab, which may actually help us to have a deeper experience of Lent.  We may be more reflective, ponder more…suffer more (JK/LOL).  There is very little hope of spring during this early Lent.

        For those of you who have been to church the past few weeks you may be feeling like the inside of the sanctuary is matching our outside weather, grey and barren with no signs of spring. For this season of Lent, we decided to remove all decorations from the sanctuary. Banners, flowers, signage, beautiful vases and goblets, all gone.  In the words of one of our deacons, “It looks like we have been robbed.”  It is uncomfortable and unsettling for us to walk into the sanctuary and not be greeted with the usual beauty. For us, this emptying of our place of worship is a different kind of fasting. We are doing without the things which make us feel good, the things which are visually pleasing.   I hope you find this “emptying” to be a meaningful experience. I hope it causes you to pause. I hope it makes us reflect about what is really important for our church; the cross and each other.

        When Easter morning comes and our banners are hung, when the chancel is loaded with flowers, we will rejoice, indeed we will rejoice!                                           

        As your Pastor I hope Easter will be extraordinary. I hope we will find a new life in Christ. I hope we will celebrate the lengthening of the days, the warming of the sun, the signs of new life all around us and the hope of our continued abundance!

Pastor Val

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  1. All my life, I have regarded Lent and this winter to spring transition as a time of death that leads to rebirth (Mark 8:35 and John 12:24-25). The church (not ours) has used this to spread a message of need to suffer or “give up indulgences”, sacrifice things you love to remind yourself of what is more important. But this is a time of celebration, a time to remind ourselves of how much we are loved by Mother/Father God. Let us rejoice and be glad!!

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