In the month of February we start our Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday, February 18th. The season of Lent each year is determined by the date of Easter which is moveable and is based on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. This is also how the date of the Jewish Passover is usually determined since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar based on the phases of the moon. This year that full moon is on Saturday, April 4th. Yes, you guessed it. Easter is the next day, a Sunday, April 5th. Our present calendar in the Western World is a solar calendar and is based on the movement of the sun. These ways of determining time by the sun and moon were put into place by God Himself when He created the heavenly lights on the Fourth Day. We read in Genesis 1:14-19, "And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons, and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth. " And it was so. God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the fourth day."
The theme of our Lenten services this year also goes back to a beginning - the beginning of our walk with Jesus Christ in the ABC's of our Christian faith as taught in Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism. The theme is "A Lenten Back to the Basics." In the beginning years of being your pastor at Shepherd of the Hills I took the congregation through the Six Chief Parts of the Catechism in the Sunday services preaching on each of the specific parts of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Baptism, Confession and Absolution (The Office of the Keys) and the Sacrament of the Altar. That is now over 15 years ago. This theme will start on Ash Wednesday and will also being carried into the Sunday services of Lent and the coming Sundays of 2015 until we conclude with the four sections on Holy Communion.
The schedule for the month of February looks like this:
Ash Wednesday - February 18th "Above All Things" (1st Commandment)
with Holy Communion
Sunday - February 22 - "Pray, Praise and Give Thanks" (2nd Commandment)
Wednesday - February 25 - "The Divine Service" (3rd Commandment)
All of the mid-week Lenten services on Wednesday are at 5 p.m. followed by a lite supper furnished by the Shepherd's Guild. These mid-week services are a wonderful opportunity to invite and bring along a friend or neighbor for both a wonderful spiritual meal and delicious evening meal. Also you might invite and pick up a member of Shepherd of the Hills who does not like to drive at night. The Lenten mid-week services like the previous Advent services run between 30 to 45 minutes.
865 Lord, Help Us Ever to Retain
1 Lord, help us ever to retain
The Catechismís doctrine plain
As Luther taught the Word of truth
In simple style to tender youth.
2 Help us Your holy Law to learn,
To mourn our sin and from it turn
In faith to You and to Your Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One.
3 Hear us, dear Father, when we pray
For needed help from day to day
That as Your children we may live,
Whom You baptized and so received.
4 Lord, when we fall or go astray,
Absolve and lift us up, we pray;
And through the Sacrament increase
Our faith till we depart in peace.