Welcome to the Engadine Easter Newsletter. This newsletter is for those with whom we have links through our various programs, activities, baptisms, weddings or funerals. It is an opportunity to let you know what is happening and share some reflections to help you think about God, life, hope and Spirituality. Therefore, we offer you these reflections with our prayers for your own spiritual journey through life. Please join us any time you are able, or would like to explore faith more deeply.
- Messy Church – A service for all ages that explores what Lent is about while enjoying activities, crafts and food. March 26, 4 – 6 pm.
- Palm Sunday – An all ages interactive and creative service to celebrate Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem and reflection on Holy week
April 9, 9:00 am.
- Church picnic – Enjoy getting to know each other more as we share lunch with each other. BYO picnic April 9, from 12 pm Venue yet to be determined Contact Tammy 0409001115 for more details.
- Maundy Thursday Service – A quiet reflective service April 13, 7:30 pm
- Good Friday dramatic Service – April 14 9:00 am
- Easter Sunday Service – All ages service of celebration April 16, 9:00 am
You are invited to attend any of these events and feel free to extend this invitation to your friends and family. These events are intended to relate to our lives and give us strength, focus and hope in our lives.
Thoughts from Tammy
It has been a hot summer with record breaking temperatures so many will be welcoming the promise of cooler weather that comes with the beginning of autumn. For me, March is not only the beginning of autumn but also the month of my birth. This coming birthday will be my last in my 30’s. Next year it will be the big 4 oh!
Forty years is a significant length of time and the world has changed a lot in the last 40 years. Right now we seem to be living in a time of rapid change and it is hard to imagine what the world may be like in the next 40 years. If we keep using and abusing the world, stripping it of resources and pumping it full of toxins we can be sure that it will not be for the better but rather closer to destruction.
We are in the midst of rapid change, and in need of change if we are to preserve the planet on which we live. Sadly we don’t often respond in ways that are productive. One way of responding is to cling tight to the way things were, to traditions and ideologies of times or things past. This is a bit like trying to hold back the tide. It consumes a lot of energy and sets us up for disappointment. Another response is to be swept away with change and the hope of a better tomorrow with disregard for the things of the past. When this happens, the baby is at risk of being thrown out with the bath water. I see these responses with religion often. People who confuse tradition and customs with biblical teaching and either cling to it uncritically or reject it and sometime Christianity itself completely. Jesus does not call us to blind faith but faith that grows in depth and understanding.
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”
Philippians 1:9-10 ESV
We need to spend time in reflection. Reflection on the Bible, reflection of ourselves and reflection on the world.
This year, March 1, is not just a reminder of my impending birthday and a year closer to 40, but also marks the beginning of Lent. Traditionally it is a time of prayer, repentance, sacrifice and good contemplation. It is a forty day period (not including Sundays) before Easter. While it is not itself directly biblical, it has been connected with the temptation of Jesus during his 40 days in the desert. This is not the only time the number 40 shows up often in the Bible. For example, in the Old Testament, the well known Noah and the flood story is the result of 40 days and 40 nights of rain (Genesis 7:12). There are also a some 40s connected with Moses for example, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18) and Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:18, 25). One more example is the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert (Deuteronomy 8:2-5).
Just as I am not looking forward to my 40th birthday I don’t know too many people who look forward to Lent each year. It is one of those traditions that is just too old-fashioned, too “Roman,” too medieval for many contemporary Christians to handle. The themes of Lent are troublesome too. Repentance. Sacrifice. Contemplation. I find it hard to believe that these themes, particularly sacrifice, were ever popular even with the Puritans (and they liked to suck the fun out of everything).
Today we have a particular problem with repentance, commonly understood to mean repenting of our sins. The reality of death and the need for repentance go hand-in-hand for many Christians. Fear and guilt have been used as weapons to convert and have reduced God’s grace to something like an insurance policy that one needs to ‘buy’ to ensure ending up in heaven rather than the alternative hell (and for some purgatory). The real problem is that we have made it all about the afterlife rather than the life-now. How we spend our lives in the here and now matter. We are to follow the way of Jesus. Ash Wednesday, Lent. Holy Week and Christianity itself are about following Jesus on the path that leads through death to resurrection. They are about dying and rising with Christ. We are to follow him to Jerusalem, the place of death and resurrection. That is what the journey of Lent is about.
The journey requires repentance but repentance is not about feeling guilty of our sins. Nor is sacrifice about giving something up – whether meat or chocolate or alcohol or coffee etc. The biblical meanings of repenting are primarily twofold. On the one hand, it means to “return” to God, to “reconnect” with God. On the other hand, it means “to go beyond the mind that we have” – minds shaped by society and culture.
The result: dying to an old way of seeing and being and living and identity, and being born, raised, into a new way of seeing and being and living and identity. It is recognising our primary identity is as members of the human race – not individuals. As long as children go hungry, wars rage, people are displaced and rejected, wherever the earth is polluted, and the poor are oppressed the human race as a whole suffers. It is our responsibility to live not for ourselves but for God and all of humanity.
Grace and Peace,