Heading into the Lenten Season

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

Greetings, all! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

            The lifting up on the lockdown will feel like a weight being lifted off the shoulders of most. For some, this is indeed good news, as is the good news that everyone in the nursing homes in the area have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, with plans in the works for how a spring rollout of vaccines will work.

            And yet, I feel like my voice and message is going to feel a bit like a Debbie Downer. There will still be a need to take caution, and to avoid gatherings where possible. The cold and the snow is keeping many of us from still gathering, anyways. Be sure to continue to stay connected to one another by reaching out, and make sure that your friends and neighbours have their needs met this winter.

            Plus, we’re heading into Lent this week, which is rarely a cause or time for many of us to rejoice. Lent began this past Wednesday (Feb 17th) with Ash Wednesday. I’m sure many of you are missing the pancake supper, but there will be times of shared meals in the future. As well, if you haven’t yet, check out the Ash Wednesday service that I recorded with Rev. JoAnn Todd from St John’s and Trinity Anglican. It is posted on Youtube and our websites, alongside all the other past services.

            Lent comes from the Old English term lencten, referring to the lengthening of days as we move into spring. It can also relate to the French word lente, which means to move slowly. And the liturgical colour, purple, is usually associated with reflection, sadness, and penitence.

            This probably doesn’t sound like the season many of us want to move into right now, especially with things opening up again and some more hopeful messages finally being heard in the news cycle. It might feel like this whole past year has been one long Lent. But, the reason Lent has stuck around, and the reason we should take heed of it, is because it really gives us time to focus on who we are and how we will live once the hopeful and joyous time of Easter actually arrives.

            We’ve been doing some of this reflecting over the past year, but I really encourage you to take these lengthening days to really discern what it will mean to have things go somewhat back to “normal”. Do we even want things to go back to “Normal”? Are there ways of living and caring from this past year that you want to carry into the future? How will you live as an Easter person, knowing God’s love, salvation, and transformative grace, once we are able to fully be in community again?

            That is what this Lenten season is about. We know there is hope and joy to come, but we need to prepare for it. We need to travel with the vulnerable Jesus to the places and moments where love and hope need to be known the most. If you feel so called to give up something for this season, or take up something instead, make it something that will help you reflect on your relationship with God, and move you to figure out how to live as a Child of God in the times to come. In the meantime, be sure to see how your faith community is living in this Lenten time:

Upcoming Events:

  • Annual Reports are currently being compiled and edited, and will be made available in the coming couple of weeks. However, at this time, we are not planning to have congregational meetings until the spring, when it may be easier to gather together in-person. For the time being, the United Church has temporarily authorized governing bodies (i.e. official boards) to pass budgets and other pressing concerns.
  • Our Zoom Psalm and Prayer Study is underway, but you are still welcome to join in! The main focus of these sessions is exploring how to incorporate Psalms and different prayer practices into your individual lives of faith. And be sure to invite others in the community as well to join! Sessions are on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m., and Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m.; this study will run for five weeks.
  • Our Zoom Fellowship Times continue on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 10:30-11:30. Folks can join in electronically or by phone. If you do not have the links or codes, be sure to reach out to Alex.
  • Previous lesson and craft packages of our Youth Ministry from the past several weeks are still available for families to pick up or get delivered to them. Reach out to Alex for more details. Weekly Youth Ministry online lessons are starting up again.
  • Many thanks to our Lay Pastoral teams who are checking in with congregants and friends, and making sure that they are connected to the happenings of our congregations. If you know of someone who might enjoy a call, or who may need pastoral care from Alex, be sure to reach out!
  • A generous community member has offered to the Brussels Ministerial occasional home-cooked meals to those who need it. If you know of someone or a family who might benefit from the occasional home-cooked meal, please reach out to Sandra Cable.
  • Many congregants have been praising the curbside book pick-up at our Huron County Libraries, as an efficient and safe way to have some reading material this winter. There is a wide selection of regular print and large print books, audio books, and DVDs. You just need to call the library with your selections (or have them suggest titles to you), and either you or someone you authorize can pick up the books. If you need assistance with picking up the books, leave a message at either church office, and we’ll see if someone can grab them for you.

Upcoming Dates:

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 – Ash Wednesday Service available on Youtube. This service is offered jointly by Blyth and Brussels United Churches, alongside the Regional Ministry of Hope (the Anglican churches of Blyth, Brussels, and Wingham).

Sunday, February 21st, 2021 – First Sunday of Lent service available on Youtube.

Sunday, February 21st, 2021 – Online Youth Sunday School session from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Packages can be picked up outside of either church building. Contact Alex for more information.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 – “Rural Churches and Community Spaces” Virtual Conference, hosted by the Toronto United Church Council (the property and ministry support organization for much of Southern Ontario). Held on Zoom from 10-11:30. To register, check out https://www.tucc.ca/events-and-workshops/upcoming-events/

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 – Zoom Fellowship session from 10:30-11:30. Please check your email for the Zoom link or phone passcode, or email Alex for details. Note – Alex will not be attending this session.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021 – Psalm and Prayer Study Group on Zoom at 7:00 p.m. Contact Alex for more details.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021 – Blyth Ministerial Zoom meeting from 9:30-10:30.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021 – Zoom Fellowship session from 10:30-11:30. Please check your email for the Zoom link or phone passcode, or email Alex for details. Note – Alex will be late to this session.

Thursday, February 25th, 2021 – Psalm and Prayer Study on Zoom at 10:30 a.m. Contact Alex for more details.

Sunday, February 28th, 2021 – Black History Month/Second Sunday of Lent service available on Youtube.

Blessings and Christ’s Peace be with you all!

Alex Jebson

Student Minister – Blyth and Brussels United Churches

Email: minister.brusselsandblythuc@gmail.com

Blyth Office Number: 519-523-4224

Brussels Office Number: 519-887-6259

Emergency Pastoral Number: call/text 705-344-3385

Feature Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

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