There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Lent is a penitential time, a season of reconciliation, reconnection, sanctification, purging of sin, and healing. It can be a significant time wherein we make radical decisions in order to facilitate it’s greatest effect on our life.
What is a “Good Lent?”
For starters it is not something that reflects perfection in the keeping of our Lenten disciplines. If we find ourselves boasting at Eastertide about the books we read, the weight we lost, or the amount of time we spent in the homeless shelter we may have inadvertently missed the boat.
A good lent is when God has gotten into the gardens of our hearts, flipped over rocks of pride, and tilled the soil of our humility, and pruned us in his image. No one will ever know how “good” your lent was but you, as the working out of this season is intensely private, deeply personal.
Services at St. Timothy will also reflect this change of this season:
- The absence of “Alleluias”, for example, will undoubtedly take some by surprise. (But when Easter arrives we will understand all the more the victory of the risen Christ when we shout aloud, “Hallelujah, the Lord has Risen!”)
- Purple is a color of repentance and and royalty. The colors of priest stoles, altar linens, and powerpoint backgrounds will have changed from green to purple.
- The Scriptures themselves will be taken off the powerpoint screens. This is intended to get us back to the day when the Scriptures were heard, digested, and wrestled with as they were originally heard in the hearts of the listeners.
- The Nicene Creed will vary in some respects. These changes are not Lenten changes, per se, but are changed to reflect The Order for the Administration of The Lord’s Supper Approved for Provincial Use The Anglican Church in North America. The astute liturgist will no doubt recognize the following changes:
- Creed: “…was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man.“
- Post Eucharistic Prayer: “And now Father, send us out into the world to do the work you have given us to do…”
- After the processional hymn we will move directly into the hearing of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments. Our response Lord have mercy on us, and give us grace to keep this law follows each command. Afterwards, the absolution of sin is declared in Jesus’ Name. This is a powerful event that will set our minds afresh on God as we enter into his presence with songs of praise.
- Other changes – such as saying the Holy, holy, holy (Sanctus) and the Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world (Agnus Dei) – are meant to draw us deeper into the mystery of Christ.
I’ve heard it said that changes in Lent make people feel uncomfortable, unsure, and uncertain in the midst of a liturgy they are very familiar with. My response to that is “that’s right – and well it should.”
Penitential seasons are designed to be a bit uncomfortable, a bit offsetting. They are meant to shake us from the normal and take us into those subnormal parts of our hearts and praxis of Faith that need to be shaken and stirred. That’s okay. We are, after all, on a journey to the Cross.
I invite you to embrace the awkwardness of Lent, to be opened to the unpredictable movements of the Spirit in your heart during this most holy of Church seasons.
Looking for a Lenten practice? Here are a few things that may assist:
- 20 Things to Give Up for Lent. A surprising list having to do with attitudes of heart, and less with behaviours. Click HERE for that.
- 40 Ideas for Keeping Lent Holy. A great list with a day by day little thing we can do to promote Christ’s love in the the world around us. Click HERE for that.
- What is Lent? A short video detailing the overall spirit and meaning of the season. Click HERE for that.
May you have a “Good Lent!”