The Epistle
February 17, 2021
ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO DUST
Dear St. Aidan’s family,

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day we begin the season of Lent, the 40 days that help us prepare for the mystery of Easter. In stores and on TV commercials, you will soon see a lot about Easter—in fact, in my neighborhood Giant, the yellow Peeps and Cadbury eggs emerged even before Christmas. But in most of the places where we live our lives, you won’t see anything about Lent. 

Lent belongs to the Church — because the people of the Church are people who remember, and Lent helps us remember. One of the things we remember in Lent is the very oldest story in the Bible. We remember all the way back to the beginning. 

On the day that the Lord God created the earth and the heavens, God took the dust of the earth and made it into the shape of the first human being (Genesis 2:7). And then God breathed God’s own breath into the human being, and the human being began to live!

In the Hebrew language the dust of the earth is called adaMAH and the human being is called aDAM. The words remind us that from the very beginning, the earth, adamah, has been part of people, adam, and people have been part of the earth. And the earth and the people have been part of God.

But before long, people forgot that they were part of God. They began to do things that separated them from God. They turned away from God. Over and over, God reminded the people that they came from the dust of the earth AND the breath of God. Then the people would be sorry, and return to God, and to show they were sorry, they would put ashes on their heads, which look like dust. They would sit in sackcloth and ashes, and repent of their wrongdoing.

This went on for a long time before Jesus came. Jesus came to help us remember that we have always belonged to God, and that God will always forgive the things we do that separate us from God. No matter how many times we forget and turn away from God, God always remembers, and God never turns away from us, because God loves us. We remember God’s love when we remember today that Jesus died on the cross, and that he rose from the dead on Easter.

Easter is God’s way of making everything new again the way it was in the very beginning. Easter is God’s way of breathing God’s own breath into people, so that even when we die, we are still alive in God. Easter is God’s way of re-membering us, making us once again part of the whole creation that is part of God.

Today, Ash Wednesday, we will put ashes on our foreheads, to show that we are sorry for turning away from God. We make them in the shape of a cross to show that God never turns away from us but opens his arms to us as Jesus opened his arms on the cross. And we will say, “Remember that you are dust,” to remind ourselves and one another that we are part of the earth, and that the earth, and all of us, are part of God. Even when we forget, God remembers. Let us, then, be the people who remember. Let us be the Church.

The Rev. Dr. Rosemary Beales
Interim Rector
Discernment Committee News: 
Earlier this week, you should have received an email inviting you to participate in a survey of the St. Aidan’s community. The survey is a key component of the self-study we are called upon to do as we prepare to seek a new rector. Click here for answers to some frequently asked questions about the survey. If you did not receive this invitation, or if you are not able to complete the survey online, please contact Eileen in the church office to update your email address or to request a paper copy of the survey.  
 
We will also be holding two virtual Listening Sessions, one on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1 pm and one on Wednesday, March 3 at 7:45 pm. Members of the youth groups have been invited to join a special listening session next Sunday, Feb. 21 at 6 pm. 

The purpose of these Listening Sessions is to hear in your own words what experiences at St. Aidan's stand out for you, as well as your hopes for the future. You’ll find a link to the Signup Genius for the Listening Sessions in Saturday's
E-news. If you are not able to sign up via Signup Genius, you may email the committee with your choice of Listening Session at staidansalexandriadiscernment@gmail.com.

Your input in both phases of the self-study is critical – it will give us a clear picture of who we are as a church, what directions are most important to our future, and how we hope to move our ministry forward as a community. It will also help us create a profile of St. Aidan’s that will be seen by anyone applying to be rector.
 
The survey will close March 8, so don’t wait too long to set aside 30 minutes to take it.
 
Thank you,
The St Aidan's Discernment Committee
Lisa Richard, Chair, Barbara Cotter, Kevin Saunders, Darlene Ash,
Viju Dilley, Kathy Seikel, Pris Bornmann, Mary Jane Guffey

Children and Youth Formation
Godly Play training
Workshops based on the book Teaching Godly Play by Jerome W. Berryman continue this Sunday, February 21, led by Rev. Rosemary, a 25-year practitioner of this art. We are joined by members of St. George's in Fredericksburg. This is a great opportunity to experience Godly Play stories and learn about the theology and pedagogy of the method. The link is found in the Saturday E-News. 

Children and Families
Godly Play Sunday School will be this Sunday at 10:30 following the virtual morning service. We will be beginning "The Faces of Easter" Godly Play story as part of Lent. Young families will have received a package in the mail that includes coloring pages of the Faces of Easter-be sure to tune in to hear the story! The link to this and other Family Formation events is sent in a separate email. If you do not receive it, please contact Rebecca. rbtroutman@gmail.com

EYC
YOUTH DISCERNMENT FORUM: This Sunday, February 21, 6:00-7:00. This is the chance for the youth to have their voices heard about what's important in considering our new Rector! All youth, 6th-12th grade, welcome.
Contact Rebecca if you do not have the link.
SECOND and FOURTH SUNDAY: February and March will be
in support of VICHOP, at St. Aidan's from 12-1pm.

GREAT WORK last weekend stuffing 110 bags and burying the Alleluia!
Upcoming Dates to Remember
Lent Is Here! 
Please Note:
We have an updated Bulletin for tonight's Ash Weds Service at 7:00 p.m.
Please refer to your Special Lenten Enews that dropped in your mailbox on
Monday for the Zoom link to attend.

TONIGHT....Wednesday, Feb. 17, 7:00 p.m. - Ash Wednesday service will be held online tonight. You may pick up ashes from Church. They are in a small basket attached to the Church office door. You can find the link in the Special Lenten E-news that was delivered to your inbox on Monday.

Friday, Feb. 26 and following Fridays in Lent: Stations of the Cross, online, with brief liturgy and reflections. A link will be provided in the Epistle. Please let Rosemary know if you would like to offer a reflection, poem or meditation.
Lent Madness
Welcome to Lent Madness, St. Aidan’s style!
Beginning on Feb 24, Adult Formation will use Lent Madness as a platform for learning about 32 holy women and holy men known as “Saints”. Designed by two Episcopal priests as a lighthearted way to learn about our companions on the Way, Lent Madness uses a bracket adapted from basketball’s March Madness.
Follow along weekly with Adult Formation as we discuss each saint and choose our favorites to move to the next round. On Feb. 24 we will very briefly introduce all 32 saints. The group will vote to see who moves on to the "Saintly 16." On March 3 and March 10, we will meet again and the Saintly 16 will be more fully discussed and voted on. On March 17, the “Elate 8” will be presented in more detail by designated members of the formation group and voted on. On March 24, the surviving “Faithful 4” will be presented and voted on. On March 31, the 2 finalists will be presented, and St .Aidan’s will crown our choice for the Golden Halo.
Please note: No preparation is necessary to participate. We will be reading select passages about the Saints each week. You are welcome to read/research each Saint on your own, but for maximum enjoyment, we recommend that you limit your research until after February 24. For more information, contact Ted Renaud
VICHOP News 2021
UPDATE:
We have 1 slot remaining for Sunday, Feb 28th!
Thank you to all who have signed up.
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Feed the Homeless - Once again in 2021, St. Aidan's will support the local homeless community with meals for the Ventures in Community - Hypothermia Outreach Program (VICHOP).
St. Aidan's will provide hot meals for
approximately 50 guests of the Shelter on each Sunday
(February 28, March 14 & March 28).
We are seeking to fill 16 volunteer slots (four per Sunday).
Each volunteer(s) will cook from the safety of their own kitchen for approximately 14 people, with the recipe and shopping list for that week to be provided in advance. Please take advantage of this great opportunity for a shared family commitment or a peaceful time for individual introspection. Sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080C44ADAE2FA13-staidans1.
Thank you for your service.
Continuing to Help Those in Need
The Outreach Committee
is continuing the food collection for the winter months.
As food is collected, volunteers will take it to Rising Hope which serves
many families along the Route 1 corridor in our area. 
They have asked for canned meat, canned vegetables, canned fruit, and cereal. The Outreach Committee greatly appreciates the ongoing efforts of the
St. Aidan’s community to provide food for those in need.
 
Red Bag collection 
If you would like to sign up for this program, visit their website https://www.foodforneighbors.org/

Thank You
Thank you for participating in the Give From Your Heart food donation campaign as part of an Alternative Mardi Gras Luncheon this past weekend. Your contributions made for 15 boxes filled with 250 lbs. of food for Rising Hope Ministry and were most appreciated. Think Mardi Gras 2022 when we could, perhaps, return to an in-person luncheon gathering with another Give From Your Heart grocery donation program.  
And please remember, here at St. Aidan's, there's always a plastic bin in the breezeway awaiting weekly food contributions for a local food bank -- drive by, drop off! 
From the Treasurer
Thanks to all who support St. Aidan's in so many ways! Here is our Pledge Link if you would still like to donate

Your support makes so many good things happen at St. Aidan's and beyond.

Total annual pledge budget through January - $21,925
Received to date (February 12) - $18,731
Thanks for your support of this amazing community!
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We are happy to report we now have a Make a Donation here button on the St Aidan's website. You will find the Donate button on
the Giving page under the Pledge button.
We still encourage parishioners to Pledge so our budget
can be planned in advance but this new format gives us all options.
Thank you.
Worship
We worship virtually on Sunday at 9:30 am and 5:30 pm as well as every weeknight evening at 7:00 pm. You are always welcome at St. Aidan's,
wherever you may be on your faith journey.
Service Links
If you are not receiving our separate mailing each week with links for worship gatherings and would like to be added to that list, simply reach out to the office and let us know. Those links are sent out on Saturday. staidansalexandria@gmail.com
St Aidan's
St. Aidan's has been serving the Stratford Landing area & beyond since 1963.
We worship virtually on Sunday at 9:30 am and 5:30 pm (Celtic) and every weeknight evening at 7:00 pm. You are always welcome at St. Aidan's, wherever you may be on your faith journey.
Some Helpful Links:
The Center for Spiritual Deepening at St. Aidan's supports the soul and heart work of those seeking a deeper sense of God's presence in their lives. Check out the Center and its offerings Here.