The Season of Lent 2023
Wednesday, February 22 to Thursday, April 6
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
A Forty Day Journey
Lent is a season of the Church Year that calls Christians to focus on repentance and personal devotion in light of the coming celebration of Easter.
The forty-day period of Lent connects with many Scriptural events important in the history of salvation: the forty days of the flood, the forty years of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, Moses’ forty days on Mount Sinai when he received the Law, and Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the desert.
The season of Lent is somber. In the Church’s worship, a penitential tone is expressed in various ways, both liturgically and visually:
- Vestments are changed to purple, a color associated with mourning.
- The shout of praise “Alleluia” is eliminated from all acts of worship.
- The Eucharist begins with an acclamation that acknowledges our need for mercy. The Celebrant says, “Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins,” and the people respond, “His mercy endures forever.”
- The Gloria (“Glory be to God on high”) is replaced by the Kyrie Eleison (“Lord have mercy”) and the service music changes to more penitential settings.
- The priest’s final blessing over the congregation is replaced with a solemn prayer focusing on the Lenten journey.
An Invitation to a Holy Lent
The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. On this day Episcopalians, along with many other Christians in different traditions, wear a smudgy cross of ash on their foreheads to remind them of their mortality. This ancient ritual links us to countless generations who have turned humbly to God for help in absorbing the knowledge of our inevitable death in a way that will shape our living.
In this service, the priest addresses the people, saying:
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. (BCP, 265)
We see in this invitation that there are six specific ways in which Christians are called to deepen their devotion in this season:
- By self-examination. This means setting aside time to intentionally reflect upon one’s thoughts and actions, acknowledging the ways in which we fall short of God’s goodness and love.
- By repentance. To repent means to have “a change of heart” and to “turn around” from actions and attitudes contrary to God’s will. This means honestly confessing our sins to God and receiving his forgiveness.
- By prayer. This calls us to take part in the Church’s corporate acts of worship as well as the setting aside of time for personal prayer.
- By fasting. To fast is to abstain from certain foods or all food for a period of time.
- By self-denial. Denying oneself in Lent means giving up certain luxuries, even legitimate pleasures, in order to focus oneself spiritually.
- By reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. In Lent, believers are especially called to read and reflect on Scripture in a daily way.
Lent puts into practice the words of Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (St. Matthew 16:24) Lent is a time for cultivating spiritual disciplines — whether giving something up or taking something on — that foster spiritual growth.
This growth happens through group activities at church as well as personal commitments at home.
Ash Wednesday – Feb 22nd, 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM
Ash Wednesday marks the first step in preparing our hearts to commemorate Christ’s death and to celebrate his resurrection. It points to why we need what Christ offers. Join us for the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist.
Good Friday – April 7th; There will be two services on Good Friday this year:
- The 12:00 PM service will be the ‘Veneration of the Cross’ which is a short service of prayer and meditation.
- At 6:30 PM we will have ‘The Way of the Cross/Stations of the Cross’ with meditations by members of St. Peter’s.
We invite you to write a short meditation for one of the stations for the 6:30 PM service! Please choose a station that you connect with personally, then sign the sheet in the church by the side door indicating the station you have chosen. You can read an example of the kind of meditation we are looking for below*.
Stations of the Cross
Friday evenings 5:30 PM (beginning February 24th) in the Church Sanctuary
Please come to Stations of the Cross, a contemplative lay-led service. We will follow the stations around the church sanctuary to retrace and help us connect with Jesus’ journey to the cross.
Resources for Lent
Self-examination, repentance and prayer
Living Well Through Lent 2023
These booklets offer daily readings for personal and individual self-reflection during Lent. Booklets are free and available in the Parish Hall. At the end of the book, you will find scripture quotes, prayers and practices for Lent.
You can also go online to receive each of the day’s readings via a daily email from Ash Wednesday through Easter. You’ll receive daily emails, one for each day of Lent, plus Easter. The emails will begin on Ash Wednesday. If at any point you no longer want to receive the emails, you can unsubscribe at any time.
A Lenten Practice for 2023: Modify Your Diet
What we buy, what we eat, what we waste – all make a difference.
Fasting or abstaining from certain activities in our lives can help us become aware of the things that tempt us to engage in behavior that is harmful to ourselves, other people, or the world in which we live. Some popular practices for fasting include giving up or cutting back on:
- Social Media
- Online shopping
- Video games
This year, our Eco-justice committee encourages us to think about the consequences of our eating habits. Here you will find information, recipes and more to that can help make a difference in our lives and in the world.
Lenten Study Groups
Wednesday evenings 6:00-7:30 PM during Lentin the Parish Hall (begins March 1st)
We will meet for a simple soup and bread supper and a reading of scripture from The Wind of the Spirit: An exploration in Celtic Christianity, a group study of Celtic practices by John Birch. We will finish each study with a short contemplative time of prayer in the Chapel, focusing on the theme for that week.
Contact Rev. Sandy (email@example.com) with interest and questions.
Bless the Lent We Actually Have
Sundays from 9:00 – 10:00 AM in the St. Peter’s Library (begins Feb 26th)
Please join us for this weekly Lenten study, using Kate Bowler’s resource Bless the Lent we Actually Have. This weekly group discussion is your invitation to join others in community and bless whatever this season is actually bringing us.
Contact Crichelle Brice (firstname.lastname@example.org) with interest and questions.
*Example Meditation for Good Friday Way of the Cross/Stations of the Cross Service
Eighth Station – Jesus dies on the cross
At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And one of the bystanders ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down”. And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. (Mark 15:34.36-37).
In the face of death, silence is more eloquent than words. Let us pause in prayerful silence and each person pray in their hearts for peace in the world.
[Prepared text: Death everywhere. Life that seems to lose its value. Everything changes in a few seconds. Our life, our days, the carefree winter snow, bringing the children to school, work, embraces, friendships… everything. Everything suddenly loses meaning and value. “Where are you Lord? Where are you hiding? We want our life back as before. Why all of this? What wrong did we do? Why have you forsaken us? Why have you forsaken our peoples? Why did you break up our families like this? Why do we no longer have the desire to dream and to go on living? Why has my land become as dark as Golgotha?” We have no tears left. Anger has given way to resignation. We know that you love us, Lord, but we don’t feel this love and it drives us to desperation. We wake up in the morning and feel happy for a few moments, but then we suddenly think how difficult it will be to reconcile ourselves to all this. Lord where are you? Speak to us amid the silence of death and division, and teach us to be peacemakers, brothers and sisters, and to rebuild what bombs tried to destroy.]
Prepared in 2021 by a Ukranian/Russian family.