|From Pastor Mark Roberts Volume 22 March 20, 2007|
"Grace to you and peace
No, there is nothing wrong with the website that sends out "The Pastor's Letter." And, if you've recently signed up, no, you didn't do anything wrong. The error is all mine. This is my first letter in March.
Why have I been so delinquent? No, I didn't give "The Pastor's Letter" for Lent. And, no, I haven't been glued to the TV for March Madness (though I wish I could be!). In truth, I've just been going through one of those seasons in life when I've been swamped. Now I was able to take a three-day prayer retreat in the middle of the "swampedness," but sometimes retreating just makes my to-do list even longer. I'm sure you understand.
In this letter I wanted to offer up a few thoughts related to Lent. As you probably know, were in the Christian season of Lent, a series of forty days (plus six Sundays) leading up to Easter. Lent is a time for us to focus on the Lord, to rediscover our need for Him, and to prepare for a deeper and more joyful celebration of the resurrection on Easter. If you're not familiar with Lent, you may like to read a series I did for my website. It's called: How Lent Can Make a Difference in Your Relationship with God. I recently added a new part to that series: Reflections on Fasting in Lent.
Perhaps one of the most obvious signs of Lent around our church is the use of purple in worship. The paraments in the Sanctuary are purple (the hanging from the pulpit and the cloth for the communion table). There are some marvelous new purple banners hanging in the Fellowship Hall, care of the Veritas leadership team. Plus, as you may have noticed, some of us who lead worship are wearing purple these days. I've been using purple ties in the Sanctuary services and purple sweaters for the Fellowship Hall services. Of course there's no requirement for Christians to wear purple in Lent. But, for me, it's one way among many of focusing on the deeper meaning of the season.
Speaking of which, I was blown away by the recent performance of Handel's "Messiah in 90 minutes." Our choir, joined by the UCI chorus and Men in Blaque, plus a fantastic orchestra, did an incredible job interpreting this outstanding piece of sacred music. It was especially wonderful to be exposed to the post-Christmas portions of the Messiah, which illustrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Many, many thanks to Dan Korneychuk and the choir for their hard work and for such a glorious and thoughtful performance.
Last week we introduced the Easter Cards that we'll use to invite our friends and neighbors to Holy Week and Easter services at IPC. (You can find a PDF of the content of the card here.) I can't emphasize enough how important it is for all of us to be ready to invite folks to church in this season. Many people will come simply because it's seems like the right thing to do. Others will come because they feel an inner longing for God, even if they can't quite express this in words. Last year about a dozen people made first-time commitments to Jesus Christ in our Easter services. So the opportunity is rich, not only for us to be a welcoming church, but also for us to be part of lives being transformed.
So, please take a couple of the Easter cards and be ready to invite folks to our upcoming services. And, even if you don't have a card on hand, look for opportunities to invite people to join us in this season. You can always send people to the IPC website (www.irvinepres.org). If they Google on "Irvine church" we come up second.Finally, please join me in praying for God's blessing and power in the upcoming time of Holy Week and Easter. Pray for those of us who will have leadership roles during this time. Pray for members of the IPC family, that we will be refreshed and renewed in our faith. And pray for those who will be visiting us, that they might be drawn to the Lord, and that many who don't know Christ today will enter into relationship with Him on Easter.
Grace and peace,