The week ahead is an interesting one. Pancake Tuesday. Ash Wednesday. Valentine’s Day. NiteKirk on Friday night. A weekend, too, ending a week off school for my kids. It’s one of those February days when you can believe that spring in coming. The light is gentle and the sky finally open.
This Monday morning opens with a family peanut butter factory at the end of the table. As I type away at the other end, I’d like to share a little about these seven days and about our plans for Lent. Maybe you can share your plans, too. And I’ll be posting the peanut butter recipe at the Renew and Sustain in a couple of weeks, so I will let you know when you can read that, too, in case you’re interested.
Pancake Tuesday – I’ll be cooking up a mountain or two and inviting the neighbours round. There will be a flurry of kids and parents and mugs of coffee, and I’m dreaming up a few topping possibilities, too. The Spouse won’t be able to join in, unfortunately, but he has a compelling commitment. There’s to be a seminar at the university, looking at Galatians from a Muslim perspective. So at the end of the day, he’ll have some interesting thoughts to share and I’ll see if there are any pancakes left to share…
Ash Wednesday: We’re starting a new midweek service at the church. It’s an idea that’s been brewing for a while, and Lent seemed like a good time for a pilot project. Our church is downtown and there are a lot of offices nearby, so we’re hoping that a lunchtime service will be a convenient time for the locals. I remember similar Lenten lunchtime services at Knox Church in Ottawa. I had an office there when Beangirl was tiny, where she liked to pull all my books off the shelf while I worked. Come midday, she was ready for a micro-nap, so I’d set her on my back, snug in her wrap, and by the time we’d slipped into the pew, she’d be dozing. The services were a slice of quiet in our day. Then, down to the church basement for soup and sandwiches, and of course she’d wake up in time for lunch. They were good days. Of course, on the not-so good days, she’d skip the nap and I’d skip the service. But lunch was a lenten constant. At our church this Lent, we’re doing brown bag lunches after the services with tea and coffee. I’m hoping that this is an initiative that will grow as it goes.
Another project we have on the go is a Lenten read-along. You might remember that last year, I did a read-along of Matthew’s gospel here on the Messy Table, incorporating Leith Fischer’s book. There were also members of my congregation reading along, and so this year, we’re doing a more congregation-based read-along of the book of Luke, using Tom Wright’s book Lent for Everyone: Luke for structure. We’ll have a blog on our church website that tracks the progress of the read-along – I’ll post a link in the comments to this post when it is published on Wednesday.
Valentine’s Day comes on Thursday– which is going to be interesting timing for everyone avoiding chocolate this Lent! I’m not quite sure what the day will hold for our family. We might do a day-trip somewhere or we might stay home and make things. There have been requests for both. Either way, the theme will be lovely, yummy food…
Friday brings NiteKirk. This is a multi-church monthly project that I’ve just started working with – not quite a worship service, but an worship space where you can find space for prayer and contemplation. A down-town church is open from 8 until 11pm, with times of music and readings, times of quiet. There are activities and contemplations that you can choose to explore, or you might choose to sit and enjoy the stillness. NiteKirk reminds me of spirituality centres that I’ve experienced at Canada Youth and also through Christine Ball’s work with the Ottawa Presbytery. You can read more about NiteKirk here. The theme this month is Pilgrimage, which seemed like a good opportunity for me to get involved. I will be developing a few resources for contemplation, focussing on pilgrim traditions local to Britain. So this week, I’ve been reading about old walks, old stories, newer ideas. I’ve also been reading about labyrinths, and about the individual journey along an older path. And, as it often is when you start to look for something, you find it everywhere.
Appropriately, it was this week that artist Mark Wallinger launched his latest work of art in London as part of the celebrations of the London Underground’s 150th anniversary celebrations. He has crafted an individual labyrinth on tile for each of the 270 Underground’s stations. The tiles are striking – evocatively traditional, but also strikingly different. I love the idea that London will be decorated with labyrinths – not mazes to confound, but one-path labyrinths which remind us of the centring walk of contemplation, the many single paths that brings us to peace.
Saturday will bring a home visit from the midwife. She wants to see our home as we begin the discussion about homebirthing here. I’m now halfway through this pregnancy, and I think that this meeting will be a good way to begin the next half. Again, days of waiting, wonder, and preparations.
And so this Lent begins. A full week, walking from these last days of the season of Epiphany into the first days of reflection and contemplation.