Pastor’s Newsletter Message – March 2019
~ Marching Orders ~
“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle,
David sent his servants…and besieged Rabbah.
But David remained at Jerusalem.”
Dear Members and Friends,
The month of March is named for Mars, the Roman god of war. (See the quote at the top of the page to understand why.) Ancient kings spent their long, dull winters just wringing their hands, pacing their marble floors, dreaming of the glorious conquests they would inflict upon the world, come spring. When the second half of March came sweeping in at last, with its breezy first hints of springtime, those monarchs of old were on the move, sacking, killing, pillaging, and doing all the contemptible things that made kingship so much fun for them—and so miserable for everyone else. You might call it the original March Madness. Imagine naming a month for the fact that it kicked off the kings’ annual wartime shenanigans. But technology gives today’s wanna-be-kings the capacity for warfare all year round. We moderns can beware any old day of any old month—not just the “ides” (middle day) of the third month. March is no longer especially violent.
And yet, for us the month of March always means Lent—a season not for literal battles, but for the inner struggles of the soul. In Lent, we endeavor to subdue the many subtle forms of selfishness and fear that keep us chasing our spiritual tails, and that deprive our spirits of the abundant life that Easter promises. Lent is a time to renew our attempts at a deeper, richer, more fulfilling, peaceful, and productive life in God. How shall we go about it? By means of worship and mission, of course!
Worship opportunities: Our annual Lenten vespers services kick off with communion on Ash Wednesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Then there will be a service of evening worship—“vespers”—each Wednesday in Lent at the same time and place: 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary, March 13, 20, 27, and April 3 & 10. These will follow the same very popular format as last year. Each service is drawn from the 1946 version Book of Common Worship—the only Presbyterian service book that has stood the test of time. (Despite having been replaced three times over—in 1972, 1993, 2018—the wisdom, insight, and poetry of the 1946 version have kept it in print.) Instead of a sermon, one church member each week will be asked to choose the hymns and Bible readings for the evening. That person will then be interviewed about his or her faith journey. Come hear what God is doing in the lives of people you see but whose stories you may not know. Also, in order to enhance your private worship in Lent, a forty-day devotional will be made available to you in the narthex. New this year: Bower Hill Church staff have written a devotional guide for Holy Week based on the Stations of the Cross! It will be made available in April.
Mission opportunities: Pittsburgh Presbytery is sponsoring an all-youth “pilgrimage” to Malawi in July! Bower Hill is sending four young people—Kemp Carter, Coleman Child, Chloe Snyder and Greta Snyder—and one adult chaperone, Michelle Snyder, to represent us in Malawi. Please be in prayer for this new international mission venture, and stay tuned to see ways the kids interpret their mission experience to us upon their return. It is our hope that every child who passes through this church will experience at least one local and one cross-cultural mission trip. Also be in prayer for our mission partners in Haiti, where a new wave of violence and civil unrest is making it hard for people to get food and water. Go to www.papillonempowerment.kindful.com to learn how you can help Haitians in need. In this Lenten season, continue to support the food and diaper collections here at the church. And be generous! Give to beggars. Give to those in need. Take time to listen to the troubled and the distressed. These are a few ways to open your spirit to God’s presence in new ways in this season of March.
In Christ’s Peace,