A Season of Renewal
"Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became a custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time when converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism... The whole congregation was put in mind of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith." (The Book of Common Prayer, Invitation to a Holy Lent, p. 265)
The priest speaks these words on Ash Wednesday to remind us all of the season we are beginning. Each week during Lent the candidates in the Basic Christian Formation Program will come before the congregation for prayer and to receive a small reminder of the journey of exploration they are all on. And yet, as the Prayer Book reminds us, when those who are preparing for Baptism or Confirmation or reaffirmation of faith stand before us, they are icons of the journey of renewal we all are on this Lent.
Sunday, the candidates will receive the taste of salt on their tongues and we will pray for them saying: "Guide these candidates in the days and weeks ahead: make them ever thirsty for your word, strengthen them in their calling to be your disciples, bless them with deepening knowledge of you, and seal them with the Spirit of your promise." And that is what all of us are encouraged to do this season: to be thirsty for God's Word, strengthened in our discipleship, and to grow in knowledge of Christ.
To that end, a critical element of our own spiritual work this season is to engage in practices that will assist us in our growth in Christ. Here are some opportunities: Sunday mornings the entire congregation has its own formation opportunity. While the candidates study together, you can also spend time with Bishop Frank Brookhart, Sister Greta and brother Dennis of the Community of Divine Love and with our own St. John's Writers Group. Take a day away and go to the Community of Divine Love for our Lenten Retreat. Join others on Tuesday Evening to pray Evening Prayer communally and on Wednesday walk the Stations of the Cross and celebrate mass. Our Writers Group will give the weekly meditations. Enrich your private prayer with Daily Morning and Evening Prayer using the devotional guides we have available, or make use of the booklet of Lenten poetry also available on our Welcome Table. Help in the Food pantry or Laundry Love ministries.
All of these practices will help you during this 40-day extended spiritual retreat we call Lent. Our prayer for each of you is that you will renew your faith, be strengthened in your discipleship and deepen your knowledge and growth in our Lord Jesus Christ.