Believe it or not, Lent is almost upon us and Saint John’s is ready and waiting to lead the faithful on the journey through the Lenten wilderness and on to Easter Morning.
Our Lenten journey begins on Wednesday, February 22- commonly called Ash Wednesday. This is a day of fasting and penance within the calendar of the Church. We will have two opportunities for you to join us and offer prayers to God, receive ashes (the outward sign of our repentance and fasting) and communion on this somber day. The first liturgy will be at 12:05pm and will last about 45 minutes. The second service will be at 5:30pm, employing the choir with a nursery provided.
During the season of Lent itself, we will have numerous opportunities for worship and devotion. In addition to our regular Sunday Liturgies we will have:
- Daily Morning Prayer at 8:05am in the Chapel (Monday through Friday) starting on Thursday, February 23.
- On Wednesday’s at 12:05pm in the Chapel, we will offer a Healing Eucharist (the sacrament of Unction being offered at the end of mass)
- On Wednesday nights at 5:15pm we will gather for Evensong (Evening Prayer) with brief homily, followed at 6:00pm by a soup and salad dinner and opportunity for fellowship. (Nursery provided during service)
- On Sunday evenings we will offer Stations of the Cross at 5:00pm followed immediately by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (find out more about Stations of the Cross here and to find out more about Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, go here).
The theme of this year’s Lenten journey is “Acts of Mercy” and you will find the theme of how to live a life of mercy threaded throughout all of our liturgies and fellowship opportunities. As you can see, this year we are taking a slightly different tact than in years past. We are offering, to the best of our ability, as many different worship opportunities as we can support. Our main Lenten offering will still be Wednesday nights (the time I hope you will all try your best to attend), but there are many other opportunities and I hope you will join us as we do our best to be ‘a house of prayer’.
I will also remind the faithful that Lent is a somber and solemn season where we generally try and live simple lives of moderation. As well as taking on extra devotions and reading, additional ministries and alms giving, we also practice fasting and abstinence. Fasting is especially appropriate on Wednesdays and Fridays, and it is also very common to give something up for Lent (even in the protestant South, I think most of us are familiar with this idea of giving up things), things that might seem luxurious or complex or addictive- things such as Facebook or the internet, foods such as meat or chocolate or sweets, or activities and interests such as television or alcohol.
The idea of all of these things is to simplify our lives, reconnect or re-consecrate our lives to Jesus and break those habits that distract us from a life lived to God. In the coming two weeks I will be going into more detail about the nature of Lent and its practices.
If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please see me or contact the parish office. Know of my prayers and love for this parish as we enter into this solemn and somber season. See you at the parish!