The penitential season of Lent began this past week with Ash Wednesday, when Pilgrim was, as I imagine most other churches in East Texas were, forced to go “online only” for its observance of the Holy Day (if not to cancel altogether), due to the “unprecedented” winter weather, though that weather provided a visual reminder of the forgiveness of our sins offered by our gracious God through His Word and Sacraments (see Isaiah 1:18 and Psalm 51:7).
As the weather eventually warms and the days gradually lengthen, we have Lent, the springtime of our souls, a special time for instructing in the Christian faith, for returning to our baptisms as we prepare for the annual observance of the Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Day, and for focusing on all that our Lord suffered for us and for our salvation.
In that latter regard, this year Pilgrim in its special Midweek Lenten Vespers services is again hearing the Passion Narrative from the Divinely-inspired Holy Gospel according to St. Mark, with the special sermon series in those five services focused on some of St. Mark’s unique contributions to the whole of the Passion Narrative.
Although St. Mark uses the fewest words of the four Gospel accounts, and although at least one unidentified online author considers St. Mark’s unique passages to be “quite unimportant,” we might say better with Bible scholar Raymond Brown that St. Mark “makes every detail count.”
One might count more than two dozen unique contributions, but precisely how many St. Mark made depends in part on what one considers to be a unique contribution: whether something as simple as a different word than that which the other three evangelists use, to a unique detail of an event that they all report, to an event of which none of the others tell.
Pilgrim’s special sermon series makes relevant to us the following: what Jesus says about doing good to the poor (14:7); a young man’s fleeing naked (14:51); details about the false testimony against Jesus (14:58-59); details about Barabbas (15:7); and Simon of Cyrene’s two sons (15:21).
All are invited and welcome either to join us live the next five Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in person or via Skype, or to stream or download the video or audio to watch or listen to later.
We trust God to bless His Word this Lent as He promises to do always!
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.