On Wednesday, February 22, 2012 the Orcas Island Council of Churches met to welcome two new members to the Council – Ann Hall, Pastor of the Lutheran congregation here at Emmanuel and Roger Maris, Pastor of the 7th Day Adventist Church and faculty member of the Christian School. The primary agenda item for our meeting was to finalize plans for our ecumenical Lenten worship services that will be followed by a light soup supper. The schedule for the services is as follows:
5:00 pm, Wednesday, 29 February St. Francis Catholic Church
5:00 pm, Wednesday, 7 March The Community Church
5:00 pm, Wednesday, 14 March Unitarian Universalist Congregation (West Sound Community Center)
5:00 pm, Wednesday, 21 March 7th Day Adventist
The Christian School 5:00 pm, Wednesday, 28 March Emmanuel Episcopal Parish and the Lutheran Congregation
The theme for our Lenten worship services will be that of “Stewardship” – how do we steward or care for our environment, one another and ourselves.
As you know stewardship is also the first “S” of our vision for Emmanuel to S.E.E. (Stewardship, Environment and Evangelization) our way into this New Year and beyond.
For the past several Sundays I have been focusing on the “E” of Evangelization and its relationship to the Epiphany of the Lord to the Gentiles as a way of responding to the call for all of us to be evangelists. During the Lenten season I invite your attention to the “S” in S.E.E., Stewardship. Lent may seem a strange time to be talking about stewardship given the fact that we have just finished our Every Member Canvass and stewardship sermons generally come in the fall in anticipation of establishing a budget based on pledges. But I am using “Stewardship” in a much broader sense – not simply money – but all that we have as a gift from God. As such, what better season than Lent with its emphasis on reflection and self-examination to consider how we spend our lives in terms of time, talent and treasure?
Lent is also an appropriate time, given the emphasis on “self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 265) to consider the broader notion of Stewardship. “Self-examination” should also include communal/congregational examination given the bidding during Lent to reflect on our lives, both individually and together as God’s family. During the Sundays of Lent I shall be asking you individually and us, as members of God’s family, the Church, to consider how we steward or care for our time, our talents and our treasure. Furthermore, I suggest that such reflection be framed by our stewardship of the environment and one another as articulated in our mission statement to “Love god and God’s creation with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
We shall begin with reflecting on that which is most basic – how do we care for and steward that which is essential for all forms of life – our environment, “this fragile earth our island home.” Then we shall explore how we steward and care for one another given the commandment to “love one another as Christ loves us” and finally to ask a question that often gets overlooked – how do we care for, steward ourselves as individuals given the precious gift of life itself; a most basic question we often ignore or simply forget given the busyness of our lives and schedules.
Lent is a time, a season to take a deep breath, to be still, to reflect, to rest, to consider, to evaluate, to look deep within and ask ourselves how we are doing, as individuals and as a church family. Said differently, we too often get wrapped up in the busyness of life and forget the purpose of life. Or to quote the philosopher – “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
It is in the spirit of a call to Holy self-examination and reflection that “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent.” (BCP page 265).