The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26, at 7 p.m. with The Proper Liturgy for Ash Wednesday , continues for six and a half weeks and climaxes on Easter Day.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry explains it, in part, like this:
“Lent has two quite remarkable bookends. On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that we are dust and that God loves us even in our dustiness. At the end of this season, we will celebrate the power that God’s love has to transform this world.”
I love the “bookends” metaphor. Picture a bookshelf with The Book of Ash Wednesday at one end and The Book of Easter Day at the other end. At that rate of a book a day, there would be 45 other books on that Lenten shelf. What are all those other books about? Should we be reading them? What if we don’t read them?
Over centuries, Christians have observed Lent as a season of penitence and fasting in preparation for Easter. The days of Lent have offered us a time to be on a journey or a pilgrimage, both physically and in our minds and our hearts.
More recently, we have revisited the season’s origin as a final preparation of adult candidates for baptism, hence a time for all of us “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.” (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, p. 265).
So, how can we at St. John’s Episcopal Church prepare ourselves and become immersed in the sojourn and journey of this Lenten season? There are literally hundreds of ways available to us, in the form of Lenten devotionals, local events, online blogs and podcasts, theatrical performances, and books by folks like Cynthia Borgeault, Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating and others. Discovering the plethora of Lenten preparation material can be a sojourn/journey in itself!
This Lent at St. John’s Episcopal Church, our Adult Formation committee has scheduled several Lenten-themed forums for each of the Sundays in Lent, at 9:00 a.m., preceding our worship services:
March 1: Fasting of the mind and heart, about using meditation during Lent
March 8: Meditation in community
March 15: The history of Saint John’s Church
March 22: Lenten fasting from cyberbullying