Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Last Saturday of Great Lent

That’s right! Today is the final Saturday of Great Lent. By this time next week Great Lent will be behind us, and we will be celebrating the Feast of the Saturday of Lazarus. We’ll talk more about that next week, but today the Church stands on the cusp of the last week of the Great Fast. We’re tired. We’re hungry. We’re grumpy. We’re blessed.

The Great Fast has been a challenge to our physical and spiritual endurance. Today the Church turns our attention to the benefit of the past by calling our attention to the Old Testament Temple. From the beginning, the Temple (as I have written before) was the place where God was encountered by His people. If we were willing, the Great Fast was a time for us to encounter God. Just as the Old Testament Temple required people to go out of their way by entering into the Temple to encounter God, we had to go out of our way to encounter God during the Great Fast, and now Great Lent is almost over.

You can imagine the Jews may have felt Christ would never come. Year after year, and century after century, they entered the Temple looking to encounter God. Finally He came but they didn’t recognize Him. I only pray that your Great Lenten journey this year is not met with the same disappointment. I pray you began this journey with an open mind to encounter God, but that you remained steadfast in your search for Him. He is coming. It won’t be long. Only one more week...

Here are today’s readings:
Epistle Reading: St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 9:1-7 (RSV) - BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.
 Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-49, 56 (RS V) - In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

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