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First News | February 3, 2021

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Lent is the 40 day season that precedes Good Friday and Easter. Since the 4th century, Christians have marked this period to spiritually prepare for Jesus’ journey to the cross, the Passion week, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Resurrection Sunday. As Jesus kept His focus on the cross, we reflect on His teaching to us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)  

In response to this, the season of Lent is traditionally marked by a spirit of penitence, discipline, fasting, and renewal. Many will choose to ‘fast’ or refrain from something to remind themselves of the need to remove the unnecessary things of our lives in order to focus more deeply on God. However, this year, I’m with many liturgists in that this has been an unprecedented year of restrictions already. It is as if Lent was imposed on the world! So instead of refraining from another thing in your life, for this season, we are encouraging you to focus on the ancient practice of almsgiving. Almsgiving essentially are acts of kindness to those who are in need. Whereas fasting refrains from something; almsgiving gives generously to others. May I invite you to be particularly attentive to the needs of those in your network of relationships - your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbours, and the neighbours of our church in the West-End and to serve them in some tangible ways.  Contact your area pastor to see if there are any families or individuals that could use a meal. Surprise your neighbour with a little something. Call a senior whom you know is somewhat isolated. Send a card of encouragement to someone once a week. Be intentional and creative and do this as often as you can through Lent.    

 On Ash Wednesday, Feb 17th, we will release a special Ash Wednesday service shaped around the well-loved Psalm 23 for you to enter into this season worshipfully. 

Lenten Prayer

God of the everlasting covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced physical bodily death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of Lent,
draw us to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may take peace in facing our own mortality,
and live out our lives fully for your kingdom. Amen.

John Tsang
Minister of Congregational Care