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. THEREBY, 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 WHICH ALL CHRISTIANS CONTINUALLY HAVE TO RENEW THEIR 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 SELF-DENIAL; AND BY READING AND MEDITATING ON GOD'S HOLY WORD. AND, TO MAKE A RIGHT BEGINNING OF REPENTANCE, AND AS A MARK OF OUR MORTAL NATURE, LET US NOW KNEEL BEFORE THE LORD, OUR MAKER AND REDEEMER.
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, P. 264
Dear siblings in Christ,
Since its inception, Lent has been a time set aside by followers of Jesus to seek reconciliation with God and one another. The events of the last year leave no doubt as to the need of this work by Christians of all kinds as well as the necessity of God’s grace in its realization. To that end, after a full liturgical year in pandemic, I invite us all into a holy and Spirit-filled Lent.
The night before Ash Wednesday we normally eat pancakes, share talents at our annual talent show, and burn palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday to be placed on our foreheads as ashes. Given the pandemic, Church of Our Saviour will be releasing a pre-recorded video on Shrove Tuesday, February 16, wherein I will offer a short theological cooking lesson, followed by a short talent show of sorts and burning of the crosses from last year’s Palm Sunday.
On Ash Wednesday, February 17, we will have three different services. At 7 am, there will be an outdoor spoken morning prayer (which will not be streamed online). We will have a noontime prayer with spiritual reception of Eucharist (outside and streamed). Last, at 7 pm, we will have a solemn pre-recorded worship service similar to the midnight Christmas Eve service, with spiritual reception of Communion. Ashes will be available for pick-up at the church office the week prior as well as on Ash Wednesday. This year we will be self-imposing our ashes!
During Lent, Sunday morning services will shift slightly. Sunday mornings at 8 am we will be streaming Morning Prayer Rite II from within the church (streaming online only), and Rite I Morning Prayer will be streamed at 9 am (with the opportunity to attend in person, outside on the patio) At 11 am we will continue to stream morning prayer in Mandarin Chinese. We will then have a 4 pm Sunday evening prayer outside on the patio during Lent (instead of 5 pm on Saturday evening).
Additionally, each (non-Sunday) day during Lent, Church of Our Saviour will email a Collect and readings of the day as well as a reflection written by one of our community members. This effort is being coordinated by the Rev. Anne Thornberg, so if she reaches out to you to contribute a selection, I invite you to do so!
Last, I will be leading a book group on Wednesday evenings during Lent via Zoom at 7 pm (2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17, and 3/24). We will be reading Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture. This will be a more academic, high-threshold opportunity for faith formation. If you would like to order a book through us (cost is $5), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please come! All are welcome!