There were Hot Cross Buns in in the shops at New Year, while we were still in the Christmas season. The commercial world leaps straight from Christmas to Easter - but not the Church! Before we reach Lent and begin our weeks of preparation for Easter, we have the season our Lectionary now calls “After Epiphany”.
The Christmas season concluded on 6th January, Epiphany, when the visit of the Magi is commemorated. This revealing of the infant Christ to visitors from a foreign land, sometimes called “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles”, sets the theme for the Sundays that follow. Remembering that “epiphany” means showing forth or revealing, we explore the ways in which God is revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.
Beginning with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, this year we have six Sundays (the length of the season varies with the date of Easter) on which to think about what Jesus’ ministry shows us about God and how this revelation is for all people, all races and classes. We hear about Jesus calling a variety of people from different backgrounds to be his followers and see him teaching and healing with authority. Then on the last of these Sundays (15th February this year), we have that very strange epiphany or showing forth of Jesus in the Transfiguration.
On the mount of Transfiguration Jesus is revealed to Peter, James and John as more than human, glorified, and the presence of Moses and Elijah place Jesus in the Hebrew tradition of leadership in accomplishing the will and purpose of God. Moses defied the might of Egypt, leading the people of Israel to freedom and giving them God’s commandments for peaceful community living. Elijah the prophet challenged the state-sanctioned religion of Ba’al and gave Israel a new vision of God. Their experience on that mountaintop gave his followers a new vision of the person and ministry of Jesus, and so it serves as a climax to this season of revelation. Rev Norah Norris
Lent is the name traditionally given to the period before Easter. It is intended as a time of preparation for the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Day. During Lent, we remember the life and ministry of Jesus and renew our commitment to follow him. Lent is considered to last for forty days, the length of time that Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism, but the six Sundays in the Lenten period are not included in this count, as Sunday is always a day of celebration of the resurrection.
In earlier times, fasting was practised during Lent. In more modern times, some have modified this practice and give up some comfort during Lent, such as cinema or a favourite food, like chocolate.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, whose name comes from a tradition of marking the foreheads with a cross made from ashes on that day. The ashes symbolise repentance, that is, the recognition at the start of Lent that there is a need for change and renewal. The timing of Lent is based on the date of Easter, which is linked to cycles of the moon, and so varies from year to year.
This year, as a Lenten preparation, Scots is offering a series of three studies which will delve deeply into the life of Jesus as portrayed in the gospel of Mark. All are welcome. Rev Dr Peter Trudinger
The Lenten Studies
Rev Dr Peter Trudinger will lead a series of three studies in tutorial style during Lent, focussing on the life of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Mark. These will take place on Wednesdays from 10.15am - 11.45am. All are welcome.
February 18 (Ash Wednesday): Preparing for our Lenten Journey
An intensive study of the first half of the Gospel of Mark
March 18: On the Journey
Continuing into the second half of the Gospel of Mark
April 1: The Destination approaches
And finally looking at the accounts of the last week of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection.
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