What is Pre-Lent?

We are now in the midst of the Pre-Lenten Season.  If you are like me, and came of age in a church that didn’t use the traditional Kalendar and Lectionary, your first Pre-Lent season here at our Parish may have left you wondering what the heck is Pre-Lent?  What are these strange “gesima” names all about? Aren’t the 40 days of Lent enough “Lent?”  In fact, just this week in Traditional Anglican social media groups there seems to be some confusion and disagreement about the proper response to Pre-Lent.
The two great Penitential Seasons of the Church Kalendar are Advent and Lent.  Both seasons are meant to be periods of preparation for two great Christian revelations:  the Incarnation and the Resurrection of Christ.  If Lent is a journey of preparation, think of Pre-Lent as a time where we are packing for the journey – making sure we have all that we will need.
Despite it being scrubbed by many Churches in the 20th Century, Pre-Lent is quite ancient, with the first written records mentioning the season in the early 400s.  By the time of St. Gregory the Great’s reign as Pope in the late 500s, Pre-Lent had been formally integrated into the Western Church complete with special intercessions and prayers – some of which we still pray today.
For Western Christians, pre-Lent lasted about two and one-half weeks, including three Sundays.  Starting last week, the 9th Sunday before Easter, and ending on Ash Wednesday. We have Latin to thank for the unique names given to these three Sundays.  Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  The “gesima” part of these names is derived from the Latin for “days.”  Septua = 70th; Sexa = 60th and Quinqua = 50th.

Why the names? The first Sunday in Lent, was once called Quadragesima, or "40th" Sunday, as it occurs approximately forty days before Easter. Once established, the name Quadragesima Sunday suggested that the preceding Pre-Lent Sundays be given a series of numerical names, even though Sexagesima Sunday and Septuagesima Sunday do not fall exactly sixty and seventy days before Easter.  We suspect that the symbolic qualities of these numeric names won out over actual math, reinforcing that sense of preparation, that Lent and Easter were fast approaching. 
In Church you will notice changes signifying the transition from the 50 day feast period of Christmas/Epiphany to Pre-Lent:  the liturgical color changes to violet; there is an absence of altar flowers; the Gloria is omitted; some services will have a Tract added and the Alleluia's omitted; and the dismissal will change from "Depart in Peace" to "Let Us Bless the Lord."
It can be argued that the Gospel readings for the Pre-Lent Sundays are thematic around the significance of Grace.  In last Sunday's Gospel reading we learn that Divine Grace is given to us as a result of God's goodness, and not out of any action or deed on our part. The parable of the vineyard reveals that the laborers (us) do not receive their reward because of their labors but rather out of the goodness of the landowner (God).
This Sunday's Gospel reading teaches us that Divine Grace is passively received. In the collect for this Sunday we pray that God would see that "we put not our trust in anything that we do," and that He would mercifully defend us by His power.  The parable of the sower shows us that God’s Word is passively received. His Word transforms bad soil into good. We pray that this would happen to us --  transforming our hardened hearts into good and gentle ones. 
Looking ahead to Quiquagesima Sunday, we see that God's Grace is not easily understood.  In the Gospel reading from Luke Jesus gathers His disciples and predicts to them His passion, but the disciples “understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” We pray then that God would be gracious and patient with us and grant faith and understanding to us despite our many sins.  
Pre-Lent is putting us in a right frame of mind to understand our relationship with God, and preparing us for Lent where we will first focus on temptation and faith, and the Christian’s struggle. Our focus will then shift to our Lord's Passion and ultimate Resurrection.  I pray that you will be able to experience all the depth and breadth of Lent and Passiontide with us.
--Fr. Deacon Chris
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

Upcoming Events

Men's Group, Saturday February 19, 8:30 AM, undercroft; great food and fellowship, excellent Bible study

Sunday Services, 7:45, 9:00 & 11:15 AM nursery care provided during 9 & 11:15 AM services  (for online participation for the services go to: https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/ 


Sunday school, 10:30 AM
Wednesday Service 12 noon (can be seen also at https://www.facebook.com/saintsofscotland/)

Vestry Meeting, Monday February 28, 7:30 PM, undercroft

Pancake Supper, Shrove Tuesday, March 1, 7:00 PM, Evening Prayer followed by our famous Pancake Supper with great pancakes and more including bubbly.  Invite your relatives, friends and neighbors.

Ash Wednesday, March 2, Services & Imposition of Ashes at 12 noon & 7:00 PM

Please remember to pray for everyone on the parish's prayer list that is in the attached bulletins. 

Your Food Donations are Greatly Needed
Please help this month with a food donation if you are able. Christ House is very thankful for the food we provide to them each month. Please also buy low sugar cereals (and not the kid's types that have lots of sugar).  Current needs include the following:
• canned meats (chicken, corned beef, spam)
• peanut butter
• jelly
• tuna
• canned vegetables (corn, green beans - (regular and low sodium)
• individual fruit cups (low sugar)
• canned fruit (low sugar)
• cereal (low sugar)
• pasta (regular and gluten-free)
• instant potatoes
• Macaroni & cheese kits
• Coffee, cooking oil, flour, sugar 

MaRIH Center is also in great need of our help  (crisis pregnancy center)
MaRIH Center with its all volunteer staff has been providing help to mothers-to-be and mothers in need.  If you can provide some of the items that are needed, please do so. (You can leave the donations where the food for the food bank is collected on the pew in the undercorft.)

Especially Needed
Baby wipes (an ongoing great need)
Diapers (sizes 1, 4, 5, & 6)
Similac Advanced Formula
Batteries (all sizes)

Winter Clothing  Boy/Girl (new only please)
Clothing (0-6 months, boys and girls)
Winter jackets(24 months to 2T, boys and girls)

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Our mailing address is:
St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland
1607 Dewitt Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301-1625