February 19, 2021 by Richelle Thompson

I spent Valentine’s Day weekend surrounded by more love than I expected.

My husband bought flowers, and we spent the day together doing some of our (new, pandemic) favorite things, and it was a wonderful day. The surprise came on Saturday afternoon.

The Daughters of the King, a churchwide organization of women committed to a Rule of Life and a path of faithful discipleship, held a “Conversations with Daughters” meeting. The topic: the Good Book Club and the Gospel of Mark. They had encouraged their 20,000 members to participate in the Good Book Club and wanted an opportunity to come together to talk about the experience and the message of the gospel. They asked if I would participate, and even though I don’t love Zoom meetings on Saturday afternoons, I accepted the gracious invitation. And goodness am I glad that I did.

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February 18, 2021 by Patrick Kangrga

Jesus's last living moments are described in the Gospel of Mark, "When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'...Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last."

I imagine that many people have cried out these words over the last 365 days. Perhaps out loud. Perhaps in the depths of their souls.

There are lots of words to describe what has happened over these many months. But no words to accurately depict the experience of individuals. Particularly those occupying the trenches of tragedy.

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February 17, 2021 by Haley Bankey
Topics: Discipleship
February 16, 2021 by ECFVP Editorial Team

This year, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 17, and ends on Easter Sunday April 4th, 2021. Last year at this time, we were just hearing about COVID-19, not knowing that it would change all our lives. Now looking at celebrating a second Easter virtually, we hope that the vaccines will enable us to join together before too long. For Lent this year, we’ve brought together a collection of resources with ideas to help make the best of this time apart.

1. The Episcopal Church’s website lists many available resources for Lent, including Living the Way of Love: A 40-Day Devotional, and the podcast Prophetic Voices: Preaching and Teaching Beloved Community. Click here to reach their page.

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February 11, 2021 by Ranjit Mathews

Just two days ago, I stepped into the dining room where my father, a priest, was leading a virtual evensong service for his parish. Him and my mother are here with us, as my wife and I have just welcomed another child to our household. I had entered during the time of the Prayers of the People, and a petition had come from someone, imploring God to “make us stewards of the Earth.” I heard the gathered share the response, “Lord, hear our prayer.” This exchange has lingered with me over the past couple of days. I thought of what we Episcopalians are invited to share, namely, “lex orandi, lex credendi,” and amplified with “lex vivendi.” That which we pray, is what we believe, is what we live. In essence, we become what we pray.

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February 9, 2021 by Linda Buskirk

Attention, stewardship ministry leaders! Here is an idea to keep you ministering to people right now: Use your church’s Annual Report to develop a letter or email to parishioners to once again thank them for their financial support, remind them of the value of their commitment, and help them feel connected to the church in this continuing time of separation.

That may seem like heavy lifting for one letter, but reading through the Annual Report will hopefully result in plenty of inspiration for a theme of, “Look at the impact your gifts are making!” Include 3 or 4 examples such as…

“Thanks to your support, even in the pandemic St. Gregory’s was able to continue Christian Formation via the internet. 15 preschool and young elementary-age children participated in Zoom Bible Study in the Fall, followed by an Advent study for families.”

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Topics: Stewardship
February 4, 2021 by Alan Bentrup

We’re almost through with the Gospel according the Mark, this year’s selection for the Good Book Club. This Gospel gets right to the action, forgoing the sheep and the mangers to instead launch us into the life and ministry of Jesus with the prophet calling us to prepare the way of the Lord. In other words, this is the “let’s get down to business” Gospel.

We’ve seen Jesus’ healing miracles. We’ve seen Jesus eating with sinners. We’ve heard Jesus’ parables. We’ve seen Jesus transfigured. We’ve seen Jesus riding into town on a colt.

And now we hear Jesus telling us about the end of the world.

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February 1, 2021 by Nicole Foster

Rejection is painful. To be rejected means to be not accepted, believed, or approved. It can seem even more painful when people you know, discount you. Not only does rejection involve discounting, but it often involves hurtful comments in an attempt to convince you of others demoralizing judgment of you. Jesus experienced this very thing when he went back to his hometown.

Jesus came back to Nazareth and taught on the Sabbath in the synagogue. As a matter of fact, he astounded those who heard him. But their astoundedness quickly turned into disbelief, because they knew him; apparently before his public ministry. Mark 6:1-2 states, “He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!”

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