Along with Christians world wide, we began the Lenten season on Wednesday February 14 with the Ash Wednesday service by chanting the Litany or General Supplication for God’s forgiveness, followed by the imposition of the ashes or putting ashes on the forehead of each participant in penitence. Sunday, February 18 was the First Sunday in Lent. Lent is defined as an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and including the forty weekdays next before Easter. In the Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England tradition this is a penitential or solemn season and altar and vestment colors are violet in keeping with this solemnity. Bishop Hartley based his sermon on the gospel for the day, St. Matthew 4:1, “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” This is an appropriate beginning of this season because of the theme of temptation and was a special time in Jesus’ life, just after His baptism and before His ministry. This day is sometimes known as Temptation Sunday on the church calendar. The point is that Jesus was tempted just as we are so we should follow His example. The Bishop noted that in the original Greek temptation has the meaning of a test, and this was Jesus’s test to conquer sin; that He was alone in the wilderness is significant because He had to be alone to do it. He was tempted in three different ways. First for sustenance as He was tempted to turn stone into bread. Second, He was tested in desire for security when the devil tempted Him to leap from a height without harm, but He knew this would be a misuse of power. Third, the devil tempted Him with comfort, offering Him kingdoms and glory in return for worship. The devil wanted Jesus to compromise, but He knew that the personal was not important and He chose the cross.
During prayer time Bishop Hartley said the birthday prayer for Stephanie Connell, whose birthday is February 12, and for Tom McSwain whose birthday is February 17. He also said the rest in peace prayer for Stephanie’s grandniece Jasmine who died in Oklahoma and the anniversary prayer for Leo and Carrie Compton whose anniversary is February 14. He announced that since our plans for our annual pancake day were foiled last week by the ice storm, that day has been rescheduled for February 25.