February: Gateway to Spring
“The lenten spring has come, the flower of repentance has begun to open…” (Vespers – Feb. 21)
As we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Meeting of the Lord (the 40th day of the “Winter Pascha”) we also immediately begin our preparation for the Great and Holy season of Lent which begins at vespers on Feb. 26th. Each week has its own special theme which corresponds to the Gospel read on Sunday. This message on each Lord’s Day emphasizes a particular aspect of the Good News. Each week we are also challenged to examine how we have responded to that “News.”
Feb. 5 – Publican and the Pharisee:
(Gospel reading: Luke 18:10-14)
Theme: Humility Religion cannot be reduced to external observances and must not be the source of self-admiration. “Open to Me the Doors of Repentance” is sung at Vigil.
CHALLENGE: What kind of world (church, parish) would this be if everyone were just like me? How would the quantity or quality of my worship and prayers and Christian stewardship (time, talents, resources) differ if my actions were seen by no one except God?
Feb. 12– Prodigal Son:
(Gospel reading: Luke 15:11-32)
Theme #1: Return to God It is not enough to acknowledge sins and confess them. We must make a decision to change our lives – to begin a process of ascension and purification.
Theme #2: Exile At Vigil on Saturday night, Psalm 137 (By the Waters of Babylon) is sung. I remember that I have lost communion with God. I am a long way from my true home. Something priceless, pure, beautiful and eternal is missing from my life.
CHALLENGE: Where am I going in life? Do I really experience the Church as an icon of my true home? What is God calling me to change in my life?
Feb. 19 – Meatfare
(Gospel reading: Matthew 25: 31-46)
Theme: Preparation for Divine Judgment All of us will someday face God as our judge. Thus we must refer our actions, attitudes and judgments to Jesus Christ, to His presence in the world, and especially we must see Him in our brothers and sisters. “…in as much as you have done it unto the least of my brethren, you have done it to me.”
CHALLENGE: Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I properly disposing of the gift of life? What does God really expect of me?
Feb. 26 – Cheesefare / Forgiveness Sunday
(Gospel reading: Matthew 6:14-21)
Theme: Expulsion from Paradise We were created for knowledge of God and communion with Him. Sin has deprived us of this blessed life (paradise) and existence in this fallen world is to be in exile. Christ opens the doors of paradise to those who follow Him, and the Church is our guide to the heavenly Fatherland.
CHALLENGE: Where did we all come from? What does it mean to be happy? What is truth? (John 18:18-35)