A WELL-SPENT LENT – A TIME OF RECONCILIATION
Lent – Just ignore it and it will go away. Well, yes it will. And so will Christmas, Easter and Pentecost if we ignore them. On Ash Wednesday, at the start of each season of Lent, we, as followers of Christ, are invited (the ancient word is “exhorted” which just means “strongly encouraged”) to observe a Holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God. Lent is one of the most important seasons of the church year. More than that, it’s a great opportunity for us as Christians; an opportunity to focus a little more energy on learning about our faith, an opportunity to examine our lives and improve on the weaker side of our nature, an opportunity to confess our (rare) misdoings and achieve a Christian moral catharsis, an opportunity to pray and to meditate on our lives and our faith, and to rededicate to what it means for each of us to follow the way of Christ.
The Church sets aside 40 days (does that number sound familiar?) for us to prepare for the glorious celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Originally intended to prepare and purify candidates for baptism (which the early Church held only on Easter Sunday), it was soon seen that we all, baptized or not, need to prepare ourselves spiritually for the festival commemorating the Resurrection of our Lord. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1st this year, following the last hurrah for fatty foods on Shrove Tuesday, February 28th. There are 5 Sundays of Lent leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Yes, these were originally days of austerity, fasting and penance. And you are still free to fast and put on a long face if that is your thing (but self-flagellation is right out!). However, most of us prefer to accentuate the positive features of Lent. Self-improvement by reading Scripture or books on the faith, taking a close look at one’s faults (our own, not others!), trying new methods of prayer, taking time to reflect and meditate on matters of the spirit – such activities are in the spirit of Lent and will probably be more uplifting than giving up chocolate. Lent is a time to focus more clearly on what important call each one of us has as we work at living out Christ’s Great Commandment to love one another.
This year, as a parish and a diocese, during this Lenten season of reconciliation we are offering a Sunday morning series that will foster more truth-telling and reconciliation with our First Nations Sister and Brothers. This is a way that we are marking the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Canada as a modern nation.
THE STUDY AND REFLECTION OPPORTUNITIES
Our Lenten discussion group this year is TRUTH & RECONCILIATION – BUILDING COMMUNITY BETWEEN FIRST NATION AND SETTLER DESCENDENTS. Each week we will hear from a guest speaker during the homily time and then have one hour over coffee to hear more from the speaker and ask questions.
Dates of the series are:
- Chief Leslee White-Eye – Sunday March 5th – Canada 150 for her people
Ogimaa Kwe, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation
- The Rev. Dr. Doug Leighton – Sunday March 12th – local History & Geography
- Lynn Prentice – Sunday March 19th – Spiritual & Cultural Understanding
- Sister Kathleen & an Elder – Sunday March 26th – Kairos Blanket Exercise & Lunch
- Ilona Bevan – Sunday April 2nd – Story with Children & Reserve Reflections
You are invited to join us for one or all of these presentations. Each is self-contained, so if you cannot attend all there will be no continuity problem.
We will also provide a Lenten bookmark listing various on-line resources you are encouraged to consult.
We will provide a daily scripture reading list for Lent and pass on any materials from the Diocese.
So it is that in Lent we take time to reflect on the BAD, the CLEAN, the UGLY and the GOOD through Ash Wednesday, Lenten Sundays, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Day. We would encourage you to take part in our Lenten programs and to attend the WHOLE PACKAGE DEAL of Lenten and Holy Week services:
The BAD – Ash Wednesday, Mar 1st at 10am or 7pm – This is the service where we focus clearly on our own mortality and come face to face with death, our own death and the ways in which we disappoint ourselves through our faults and shortcomings. It is indeed healthy and helpful to ponder our mortality and shortcomings at least once a year as a way to be more ready for the losses we suffer throughout our lives and to be reminded that there is life after death and that we are forgiven for the times we cause pain and death in others. This theme continues each Sunday through Lent.
The CLEAN – Maundy Thursday, Apr 13th at 7pm – This is the service where we commemorate the institution of the Last Supper, our Eucharist. This is also the service where followers of Christ are reminded that we are to serve as Christ serves us, which is radically symbolized in the washing of one another’s feet. Before you get all squeamish, not everyone is required to wash someone else’s feet though it is a profoundly humbling experience. AND we use a clean towel for each pair of feet. This is also the service where we strip the sanctuary and prepare for the despair of Christ’s arrest, trial and execution.
The UGLY – Good Friday, Apr 14th at 9am (Children & any who wish to join them) & 10:30am – This is the day that Jesus is executed. This is the day we ponder the despair of injustice in our world and in our lives. This is the day when we contemplate hopelessness. This is the day we experience the sacrifice of another for our own life. This is a day when we take an opportunity, at least once a year, to ponder the evil in our world, and to ponder our part in perpetuating that evil actively or passively. This is a profoundly sad day, but it is a day that we gather to remember as we do on Remembrance Day. We gather to remember the sacrifices and to give thanks and to recommit to overcoming the evil and despair in our world. AND we do so knowing that the story does not end here.
The GOOD – Great Vigil of Easter, Sat, Apr 15th at 7:30pm at HURON COLLEGE CHAPEL – This is the night when the Holy Fire of Hope, Love and Life is rekindled to burn throughout the night as we wait for the Resurrection to New Life of Jesus our Messiah. At the Great Vigil we hear our biblical stories of the beginning of time, the beginning of life and love, that lead up to the culmination of Easter Day.
The BEST – EASTER DAY – THE DAY OF RESURRECTION, Sun, Apr 16th at 8am or 10:30am – This is the biggest day of the Christian year. This is the first celebration of the early Christians. Initially every Sunday was a celebration of the Resurrection, and it still is, and then over time Easter Day became a big Sunday symbolized powerfully by all the New Life coming into the world through the blossoming of Spring. This is the day when we remember that there is always New Life after death. This is the day when hope is restored and we come together as brothers and sisters to one another to show that we will never be alone. In Christ we are one body, a resurrected people.
We invite you.
The Rev. Lyndon Hutchison-Hounsell, Rector & Bruce Tuck, Worship Committee Chair.