Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. In this manner, the whole Congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need that all Christians continually have to renew our repentance and faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.
And to make a right beginning, let us now pray for grace, that we may faithfully keep this Lent.
These are the opening words of the Ash Wednesday service, our invitation into the Lenten journey with Jesus. This is a season in which we choose spiritual disciplines that will clear space in our hearts and minds, in our bodies and schedules, to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit. “Deep calls to deep,” sings the psalmist (Psalm 42:7) – the depths of the Father’s heart calling out to the depths of our hearts, words of both conviction and comfort.
I encourage you to join us on this journey of listening and responding to the heart. As a beginning, put these offerings on your calendar:
Shrove Tuesday, February 16, 5:30-7:30pm: Come-and-Go Pancakes and Games via Zoom. (So crazy it just might work!)
Ash Wednesday, February 17, 7:00pm: Ash Wednesday Service at Gray’s and via Livestream.
Weekly Compline, Wednesdays, 8:00pm: Beginning February 24, every Wednesday in Lent we will pray Compline together via Zoom from 8:00pm-8:30pm, then break into groups for a 30-minute guided discussion on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
In a few days I’ll send out another email with suggestions for how to engage in “self-examination and repentance…prayer, fasting, and alms-giving…reading and meditating on God’s holy word.” Regardless of how you choose to walk with Jesus this Lent, consider these helpful words from Alexander Schmemann:
The purpose of Lent is not to force on us a few formal obligations, but to ‘soften’ our heart so that it may open itself to the realities of the Spirit, to experience the hidden ‘thirst and hunger’ for communion with God.
I look forward to being on this journey with you.
Your Pastor in Christ,