I originally wrote this post as a newsletter article for my church three years ago. As we approach the beginning of Lent this coming week, I re-visited my thoughts here and thought I’d share them with you. I’ve updated the calendar information at the bottom, in case you are interested in joining us for Lent.
“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, 1979
There are many of us who show up at All Souls Sunday after Sunday, even Wednesday after Wednesday. We offer many programs and events and services, opportunities to serve and be served. We regularly have visitors join us from near and far, some for a Sunday or a few, some settling in to join our community. Yet there is a particular season when we have a set of new, yet familiar faces. We’ve heard tell that, for some, All Souls is their “Lent Church.” And, if it does not sound too proud to say so, All Souls does do Lent well.
Sonja Stewart, in Young Children & Worship, says, “Lent is the time the church gets ready to celebrate the mystery of Easter. There are six Sundays in Lent for getting ready.” The two greatest seasons of the Church Year are those that anchor our faith – Christmas & Easter. There is even the old joke about the C&E church attender who rarely attends church, but does attend on Christmas & Easter. Christmas and Easter are such important seasons to our Christian faith because they encapsulate the essence of the Gospel – the incarnation & the resurrection. And they are such important seasons, times of celebration, that we spend time getting ready to celebrate. For Christmas, we get ready for four Sundays, the season we call Advent. For Easter, we spend six Sundays of Lent getting ready.
The season of Epiphany follows Christmas and precedes Lent. Epiphany ends with Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), also called Shrove Tuesday. While there is no particular tradition of Anglican liturgy for Shrove Tuesday, it is commonly agreed that the word “shrove” cames from the same root as “to shrive” or “to enscribe,” meaning to write. Some faith traditions use this opportunity to write down either one’s sins or one’s plans for engaging in a lenten discipline. It is also traditional to hold a pancake supper on Shrove Tuesday. This was to be the final feast, using up yeast and meat prior to the coming penitential season.
The day following Shrove Tuesday is, of course, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Traditionally, ashes created from the burning of the previous Palm Sunday’s palms are imposed upon the forehead as a reminder of our sinful nature. “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” And so begins this season of penitence and preparing, getting ready to celebrate the mystery that Christ died, and yet is alive.
We have several events and programs that you may find helpful as you prepare your hearts this year for Easter:
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
Tuesday, February 21, 6:00 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 12:00 PM & 7:00 PM
“Praying Our Way through Lent,”
a series taught by Catechist, Dr. Alan Jacobs
Sundays during Lent, 9:15 AM (simultaneous Sunday School for birth-12th grade)
Evening Prayer & discussion of The Rule of St. Benedict
a series facilitated by Mike Strachan
Wednesdays, Soup Supper 6:00 PM, programming for all ages 6:40 PM
“Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Book of Common Prayer, 1979
We invite you, therefore, to join us for Lent. Join us in penitence and preparation. And, perhaps, you might just stay on and celebrate Easter with us as well!