The land is loving it. With every drop that falls it seems another plant bursts into bloom. Nature is not the slightest bit interested in the fact that we are in the midst of Lent. She's sending out heralds of Easter everywhere -- Texas and Oklahoma Redbuds covered with an almost embarrassing array of blooms, iris in all colors, forsythia so brightly yellow that it seems sunny even on the grayest of days.
In my garden the Lady Banks rose, the Carolina jasmine [or jessamine] and the Mexican plum tree have conspired to produce a ridiculously colorful show, as you can see below.
Many of us in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth share nature's problem. Joy keeps leaking into our keeping of Lent. Not that Lent needs to be all gray and dour -- indeed some of the most powerful Lenten experiences I have had in my life have involved a wonderful breaking through into a new understanding of God's love and forgiveness, always an experience of joy.
All the same, I'm not sure that giddy joy is what one expects during Lent. But that is indeed what we keep encountering here in Fort Worth.
When Gayland and I arrived a bit late for the first of our diocesan Lenten series, this one featuring the Rev. Mary Earle, we walked into St. Christophers' parish hall and into such a joyful noise we both started laughing. The room was FILLED with talking, laughing, smiling, hugging Episcopalians. I turned to Gayland and said, "Isn't this grand? I can't remember a time when I walked into a diocesan event and saw so many smiling people."
Attendance at the Lenten Series has remained good. Last week we had our own Sam McClain, rector of St. Luke's in Stephenville, and tonight the Rev. Terry Martin, from the office of evangelism at the Church Center will speak. He celebrates and preaches tomorrow at St.Luke's Fort Worth.
St. Christophers is THE place to BE, folks, on Saturday nights. Come at 5 to have soup and salad and to get loved on, then at 6 listen to the speaker and at 7 we'll finish with Compline. You can make a reservation here. It's fun to meet Episcopalians from other parishes.
Here's a short parish update.
Here is what the Episcopalians of St. Anne's wrote this week:
Hi There -
As you may have heard, St. Anne's Episcopal Church continues within the Ft. Worth diocese of The Episcopal Church. We are a happy group of parishioners who worship together at least once a month in someone's home with a priest presiding. A pot luck lunch and social follows our service. Our next service will be at 10AM on Sunday, March 22, at Bob & Linda Johnson's home, phone number 817-236-5523. Father Courtland Moore, Canon to the Ordinary, will preside. Please come. Bring your friends.
On a personal note.....I have experienced a renewed joy with our ancient faith - a faith where all are truly welcomed to the unending love, mercy and saving grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are a part of a much larger church. People quite literally around the world have been praying for us. I have worshipped at other parishes, and attended diocesan events - and there is a great happiness and sense of community and purpose. Currently on Saturday's, there is an awesome Lenten series of soup and social, featuring a different guest speaker every week, followed by evening prayer at St. Christophers. You can find more information at the diocese web site: http://www.episcopaldiocesefortworth.org/ While you are at the web site, be sure to read about our new Bishop The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr. His visitation schedule is on the web site - and you simply must hear him preach!
We hope you will come and experience what a small faith community is all about.
Blessings to All!
St. Anne's Episcopal Church
On Sunday I worshipped with St. Simon's, a historically African American parish in the diocese. They are using St. Christophers lovely new chapel for their services. But now they have a problem -- they are outgrowing the space!
When I worshipped with them a couple of months ago, there were 15 people at the service. Sunday there were about 43 to 45.
What have they done that accounts for this growth? They have been happy Episcopalians, worshipping God, loving one another, and reaching out to those in need.
St. Stephens in Hurst is helping Christ the King as it gets established in its new worship space at St. Giles Presbyterian Church on Chapin Road. And St. Elisabeth's is reaching out to St. Anne's.
The Episcopalians in Wichita Falls are having their own Lenten Series and happily worshipping and doing ministry, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church meeting in the Chapel of United Regional Hospital, 8th Street Campus; and St. Stephens in its own building.
Bp. Ted Gulick continues his visits around the diocese. His schedule is available here. Come meet him and listen to him preach.
Wonderful things are happening here as we worship and seek to carry out God's mission as the Episcopal Church in this part of North Texas.