January has come and gone, along with some quirky weekend weather. I’m ready for spring! And I’d like to begin this month by thanking our many South Gate volunteers. With skills and callings ranging from snow removal to writing encouraging notes, to composting, to knitting and quilting, singing, listening, showing up, cooking, hosting, carrying stuff in and out of storage, organizing, strategizing, speaking, and so many others… We appreciate your time and energy greatly.

Thinking about the calendar and the church seasons, we have an interesting intersection between Christian and Secular holidays this year. Ash Wednesday is February 14th, which is also Valentines Day, while Easter is April 1st, which is known by some as April Fools Day. We pastors have been aware of this confluence of dates for a few years, but I’ll admit I continue to rediscover this interesting pairing, each time with surprise. I don’t expect to tell any Valentines Day jokes during Ash Wednesday, and I think the resurrected Christ is enough of a surprise without confusing things with a loud “April Fools!”

For now, I am focused on taking my own advice regarding Ash Wednesday. Each year I’ve been at South Gate, the day afterwards I’ve wondered why I didn’t think to offer informal times during the day for people to receive ashes. Last year, Julie and I made a note on the January calendar so I would remember ahead of time! In addition to our traditional 7:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday service, this year there will be two one-hour windows where you can join me in the sanctuary for unstructured prayer time and to receive ashes. You can come and go as you like during those hours. I am hoping this will also accommodate any holiday diners with evening plans.

Our schedule for February 14th will look like this:

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. come and go prayer and ashes

4:30-5:30 p.m. come and go prayer and ashes

7:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday traditional service

Stephanie