This year, February 23rd, 2023, marked a special day on the church calendar. It was Ash Wednesday, and the antecedent (or starting point) of worship during the holy season of Lent.
Canon Jotie, Deacon Lisa, and members of the altar guild diligently prepared the elements for the ceremony of anointing with ashes as a prerequisite of our duties which would be maintained during the next forty days, leading up to Good Friday and Easter Week. Unfortunately, not unlike neighbouring churches, a severe winter storm caused a postponement of this special ritual until March first.
But there’s an old adage that something good comes out of every disappointing incident, and this imposed replan was no exception.
Because of the gift of modern technology, Canon Jotie had the capacity to grace us with a special Compline sermon—live streamed from his home to ours—while one hundred kilometre winds bolted down our chimneys, and with blinding snow and ice pellets rattling every window pane.
His text for the sermon concentrated on the book of Matthew—particularly on chapter 25: 14–“Farewells and Food.”
It was delivered in a context appropriately permeating both the spiritual and temporal realms.
When referring to the secular world, farewells can be measured with a very modest yardstick, like maybe graduation from high school, retirement from a lifetime career, or moving to a new location. Then, in a more elaborate context, measured by the accomplishments of some of the world’s greatest artists, writers, musicians, scientists, etc. But regardless of one’s position on the continuum, all milestones deserve equal recognition.
Most importantly, and in the context of spirituality, the Gospel of Matthew exquisitely reveals the many farewell stories of Jesus:
(a) The final words of Jesus to his disciples: Behold the hour is at hand.
(b) The kingdom of heaven is like a man travelling to a foreign country. Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.
(c) When Jesus finished commanding the twelve, he departed from them to teach and preach.
(d) The eleven disciples went to the mountains in Galilee, which Jesus had appointed for them.
There is one particular period In our twelve month calendar where food is probably emphasized the most: the forty days of Lent.
So wrapping up the pronounced features of Canon Jotie’s discourse, I believe the topic certainly deserves the elaboration he duly bestowed—no matter on which rung of society’s ladder one is fortunately or unfortunately placed, everyone is entitled to adequate food.
For most Christian people, fasting in Lent has been an established custom—like giving up something important for the sake of something more worthy.
Personally, despite the fact that I have a very long sweet tooth, I have resisted for eighteen days as of writing this. Although, I must confess that if it weren’t for that special service on February 23rd, I was almost ready to relent.
With so many millions of people in the world hungry, and most of us know very little of that deprivation, Canon Jotie reiterated that we should consider fasting as a gift of Lent.
In our community and Church, helping to maintain and support food bank demands is a top priority.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”