The lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday are the same each year. So it almost doesn’t feel like Ash Wednesday if I go through the day without hearing Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”
We don’t talk about idolatry much anymore, despite the caution against it in everything from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament epistles. This is ironic, because idolatry flourishes in our culture.
I am a fan of mysteries. I love watching detectives in movies and on television. I love mystery novels so much that I don’t just read them on the beach. But I’m one of those people who doesn’t try to solve the puzzle before the end of the story. I like to experience the mystery as it unfolds. I especially love unsolved mysteries, those brainteasers that simply cannot be wrapped up tightly leaving no lose ends. Stories like mountaintop visions of transfigured splendor.
Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, said he is in conversation with Pope Francis, Coptic leader Pope Tawadros, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the Orthodox church, about establishing a fixed date for Easter. Easter in the Western church is on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon following the spring equinox. It can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. The Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar and celebrate Easter at a later date. The Vatican approved a proposal for a fixed date in 1990, subject to agreement with other Christian churches and government, which has not yet been reached (BBC, January 15).