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Lent Focus Will Be the Gospel of Mark

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Lent normally begins in the month of February but this year does not start until March 6th. You might be interested to know that Ash Wednesday is always set forty six days before Easter which is pre-set on the calendar, but do you know how that date is determined?


Hoyt Hickman in a Primer for Church Worship explains “you may have wondered why Easter falls on a different date each year. Like the Jewish Passover, it is determined by the phases of the moon. Early Christians debated the proper date for the Pascha and agreed in the fourth century that it, unlike the Jewish Passover, must always be celebrated on Sunday so that the weekly and yearly celebrations of Jesus’ resurrection reinforce each other. Easter in Western Europe came to be observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the first day of spring, which can place Easter as early as March 22nd or as late as April 25th. This is how Roman Catholics and Protestants still date Easter.” This year, Easter falls on April 21st.


During this year’s 40 days of Lent, we will focus on the Gospel of Mark. Lent will begin with Ash Wednesday services on March 6th at 6am, 12pm, and 6pm. On March 7th, Shalimar will begin hosting a 40-day Mark Bible Study. This will occur each day in the Sanctuary at 6am (9am Saturdays and Sundays normal worship times). Workbooks will be available to help you stay on track by reading and reflecting on the Gospel of Mark during this 40-day journey. We hope you will add Lenten Commitments to your schedule so each day can begin with 40 days of Bible Study Through the Eyes of Mark. Livestream sessions will be available, so you can participate no matter where you are each day.


The Lenten Sermon series will also focus on the Gospel of Mark. Among many of Jesus’ teachings, we will preach on announcing His Kingdom and teaching, faith, miracles, rebuking evil, and humility. Our community and church will be transformed as we open the pages and focus on these teachings from the Gospel.

Make plans now to be present and participate in this Lenten Study of the Gospel of Mark!

Shalom,
Philip

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Please Keep the Upcoming General Conference in Your Prayers

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A special session of General Conference will convene in St. Louis February 23 - 26. This called session is gathering solely to address issues related to human sexuality. 864 delegates from all over the world will decide whether to retain our current position or make possible changes to the Book of Discipline. As the only legislative body that can change the Book of Discipline, the General Conference and delegates will need our constant prayers.

Delegates will especially need our prayers for their deliberations and possible actions. I am so grateful for Jim Brantley who is organizing a prayer vigil at Shalimar UMC for the entire three day period. Please sign up for one of the allocated thirty minute slots.

No one knows what will happen during General Conference, but I am confident Shalimar UMC will continue to make disciples before, during, and after. One of the silver linings of controversy is that we tend to galvanize in purpose. Our purpose as a church is to be disciples, grow as disciples, and make disciples. Let us use worry and anxiety as a call to prayer and strengthen our resolve to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

During the information session last Sunday, I again shared the general rules of the church. These rules are especially important to remember during and after General Conference whether or not we agree with what transpires.

These general rules are:
 Do no harm
 Do good
 Stay in love with God

If we can live these rules and follow God’s teachings, we will better for it! Let us pray, fast, and seek the Lord’s will during this upcoming season of the called General Conference.

Shalom,
Philip

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An Invitation to a Brand New 40-Day Bible Study

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We are offering something totally brand new for Lent this year. In fact, I am not aware of any church that has ever done what we are about to do! Forty Days of Bible Study together for the season of Lent! The sessions will be at 6:00 am at first light! We will cover the entire gospel of Mark which will also be our church focus during the sermon series. Our entire Lenten Journey will be Through the Eyes of Mark.

This new offering will build for our congregation something tangible to help us grow closer to Christ during Lent. The experience of daily gatherings will offer us a chance to share this journey with others. There will also be a printed 40-day guidebook that will help us to stay on track with daily readings and personal reflection.

Daily sessions will last 40 minutes so that you may leave for work by 6:45. If you are unable to attend in person, they will also be available via livestream. Because the 6:00 am start time may not appeal to everyone, sessions will be archived each day so you can watch them when it is convenient for you.

Lent begins March 6th with Ash Wednesday services at 6:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 6:00 pm. The following morning at 6:00 am, Bible Study will begin in the Sanctuary. This journey will offer a special time to go deeper into the Scripture. I am planning a few surprises along the way to keep your anticipation building as we move toward Easter. Most of all, opening the Gospel of Mark each day for 40 days will transform our lives.

I’ve been lifting up the vision of 1,000 disciples meeting every week at Shalimar by 2022. This new 40-Days of Bible Study offers one new way to start moving toward this vision. Shalimar UMC is here to help us grow as disciples and make disciples. Plan now to be a part of this brand new Lenten Bible Study! Let’s invite others to come along for these 40-Days of Bible Study!

Shalom,
Philip

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