Pastor's Post 2/2018
Dear Members and Friends:
February 14 is not only Valentine's Day but also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. 
As is our custom at First English, we will observe the day by holding a service of Holy Communion and imposition of ashes at 7 pm, following the usual Wednesdays Together meal at 6 pm. 
On the following Wednesdays in Lent, except for Wednesday in Holy Week, we will have a Bible study (after the 6 pm meal) on the letters of the Apostle Paul, beginning on February 21 with the letter to the Galatians. These studies, held in the conference room, will begin at 6:45 and conclude at 7:45 pm.
I should be creative and write something about the meaning of Lent here, but fortunately for me (and I hope all who read this), I recently received the Winter 2018 Alumni Newsletter of the seminary I attended, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Recently it merged with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (from which it had separated, partly for confessional and theological reasons, in 1864), and the new, reunited school now maintains both campuses, at Philadelphia and Gettysburg, under one charter and one name: United Lutheran Seminary.
To make a long story short, the Newsletter contained among other things an article which I would like to share with you below. It  says exactly what I feel about the coinciding this year of the dates of Ash Wednesday with Valentine's Day and Easter with April Fool's Day. I'll mine this fact for all its theological worth later from the pulpit, but the article below is excellent and deserves to be read by as many people as possible:
"Love and Laughter" is the 2018 Theme for Lent
This year, people of faith can ponder the delightful mystery of how in the year of our Lord 2018, Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine's Day and Easter Sunday coincides with April Fool's Day. Is God winking at us? Is Jesus inviting us to live into this apparent coincidence? How might we better understand the baptismal bond of love and the greatest joke ever played on a Sunday morning? When a bruised and battered body came back to life and walked out of the tomb in defiance of all the laws of science and nature, it was God who had the last laugh. Perhaps in the midst of all our political and social strife, God is gently reminding us that the world and our narrative is intimately connected to the Creator. God hung the stars in space and made us from their resulting dust-a dust to which we will return-and then gave us the gift of Jesus who promises us that the dust to which we returned is redeemed and given new life in the ultimate April Fool's day joke that echoes across the universe. The people who live and learn together on the campuses of United Lutheran Seminary are being asked to "ponder anew, what the Almighty can do" during the course of this Lenten season under the theme of "Love and Laughter." We are called to marvel at the love of Christ on this Valentine's Ash Wednesday and be consumed with a holy laughter as that same love conquers death and gives us a wellspring of joy into life eternal this Easter April Fool's Sunday. Will you join us on the Love and Laughter Lenten journey?
(end of article)
Yes: join us at First English on Ash Wednesdays, each Sunday in Lent, at our Bible studies on the Wednesday evenings during Lent, on Maunday Thursday, Good Friday (March 29 & 30; services each evening at 7 pm), and above all on Easter Sunday, April 1, at 8:15 and 10:30 am. We too wil marvel at the love of Christ on this Valentine's Day Ash Wednesday, and above all laugh at the devil on Easter, who was so foolish on Good Friday that he thought he had won, had defeated God. April Fool! Christ is risen, and through his victory over sin and death we too shall rise from any defeats this sinful world and our sinful selves have dealt us.
Please join us for an exciting 40 day and five Sunday pilgrimage!
Faithfully yours,
Pastor John Schweitzer
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