Presbyterians Sharing supports Two Rivers Church in Guelph, Ontario as it engages people in the community “where they are at”, in neutral spaces. Some of the initiatives launched this past year include a musical Kitchen Party, Theology in the Dark (movies) and Theology by the Glass (pub gatherings), a bicycle event, a community garden, a book club and potluck dinners hosted in people’s homes. These events make others aware of the church’s presence in the city and have resulted in new members and participants in church programs. By making connections, the community is strengthened. Recently, Two Rivers members joined with neighbours to sponsor a Syrian refugee family! Pray for Two Rivers church as it continues to reach out and make a difference.
Presbyterians Sharing builds community
February 20 is World Day of Social Justice
Presbyterian World Service & Development works with global partners to combat injustices and protect the rights of women, children, farmers, refugees and persons with disabilities. At the Garu Community Based Rehabilitation Centre in Ghana, local partners empower and teach vocational skills to people with disabilities so that they can achieve their full potential. When Lamisi injured her spine and lost the ability to walk, she thought all hope was lost. After her surgery, she received physical therapy and a pair of crutches at Garu. She was also offered training in small business development. Lamisi now owns a shop and is earning enough to meet her needs. Lamisi is filled with thanks for the support to continue living a full, productive life.
PWS&D empowers people living with disabilities
We are now in the Season of Lent, the fourth of the six seasons of the Christian Year. Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, and in that respect is similar to Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas. Lent is a time for us to give increased attention to our struggle against our sinful impulses and the sinful pressures of the world around us, and to work for renewal in our relationship with God. Historically, Lent was a time when the disciplines of fasting, giving to the poor, and prayer were emphasized (see Matthew 6.1-18). In some denominations, the practice of fasting has evolved into the practice of “giving something up for Lent”.
The season of Lent originated in the early centuries of the church as a period in which new converts (called “catechumens”), mostly adults, were given their final instruction in the Christian faith, in preparation for their baptism at Easter. By the Middle Ages, Lent had evolved into a solemn season of penitence and fasting, in imitation of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and being tempted in the wilderness (Luke 4.1-13 and parallels). The length of Lent was therefore set at 40 days (not including Sundays, however, since Sunday, the weekly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, could not be a day of fasting). So Lent always begins on a Wednesday, 6½ weeks before Easter: Ash Wednesday. Since the date of Easter changes from year to year, the date of Ash Wednesday also changes.
The final week of Lent is called Holy Week, and during that week we commemorate the events of Jesus’ “Passion” — his suffering and death in Jerusalem.
The symbolic color for Lent is purple, signifying preparation and penitence. The color for Holy Week is red, symbolizing Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross as a sacrifice for human sin.
February 6, is Transfiguration Sunday, the final Sunday of the Season after Epiphany. On this Sunday we commemorate Jesus’ transfiguration, recorded in Luke 9.28-36, as well as in parallel passages in Matthew and Mark. Like his baptism, Jesus’ transfiguration was an event in which Jesus’ true identity as the Son of God was briefly revealed. The color for Transfiguration Sunday is white, symbolizing joy and celebration, whereas the color for the rest of the Season after Epiphany is green, the color for ordinary time.
February 10 is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Season of Lent. Lent is the season in which we prepare ourselves for the festival of Easter, through repentance — that is, turning away from sin, and seeking renewal in our relationships with God and each other. The name “Ash” Wednesday comes from a traditional ritual called the “Imposition of Ashes”, in which ashes are placed on a person’s forehead in the shape of a cross, signifying the person’s penitence, and consciousness of his/her mortality. The seasonal color for Lent is purple, symbolizing preparation and repentance.
PWS&D Sunday – The first Sunday in February is designated “PWS&D Sunday” by the General Assembly of our church. On this Sunday each year, we remember the work our church is doing to support vulnerable families across the globe. Presbyterian World Service and Development is the relief and development agency of our national church. It supports projects in various countries that respond to emergencies, or help people to raise their standard of living.