Lent: A Holy Season

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent…” (Book of Common Prayer)

The Season of Lent is a time of fasting and turning toward God, beginning on Ash Wednesday, and winding through 40 days (not counting Sundays) before the celebration of Easter.  Lent, dating back to the first half of the 4th century, is among the earliest observances by the Church.  (For comparison, Christmas took until well into the 7th century before it was widely celebrated.)

Lent, which means springtime, was originally a season of preparation for new converts to Christianity.  During this time, those known as catechumens were instructed in the faith and encouraged to commit themselves to fasting and prayer to ready their hearts for Baptism at the Great Vigil of Easter.

Over the centuries Lent has taken on a wider application, inviting those already baptized and committed to Christian identity to turn again into faith with a time of fasting, prayer, and repentance.  At Easter, we recall and reaffirm our baptismal vows with those newly joining the household of God.
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I have sojourned for many years with a conflicted attitude about Lent.  At times, I’ve been ambivalent about it, understanding Lent’s significance but annoyed by the inconveniences of discipline, contrition, and penitence. In other years, I’ve outright dreaded it: sometimes from an outsized attachment to sin in my life and other times due to personal busy-ness, preoccupations, and stubborn resistance to being quiet and living simply. 

This year is different.  I’m craving the simplicity, the discipline, and the course-correction that comes in this holy season. I need Lent this year like I can’t remember ever needing it.  I desire to sit with my mortality, my moral entailments; and the places of brokenness in my life and in the world around me.  I yearn to confess my weakness, my insufficiency, and my desperation.  I need to do all of this, not for the sake of wallowing or sinking deeper into despair, but precisely because of a deep longing within me for Easter.  I seek to be formed as a person who can and will embrace resurrection with openness, wide wonder, and new hope.

On Ash Wednesday, the celebrant will invite us to observe a holy Lent with the words above.  We are invited to live into this season of turning--from sin and evil in the world, toward hope, beauty, and new and abundant life.

The Reverend Scott Painter | Curate
 
 
During the Season of Lent, there are several offerings within the parish to help us on the journey. 

The Reconciliation of a Penitent (known in some church traditions as Confession)

  • During the Season of Lent, some seek to be unburdened of unconfessed and afflicting sin.  The Reconciliation of a Penitent is a sacred and strictly confidential rit, between the penitent, the confessor, and God.  It is available for all who seek it. 
  • Call the church office to set an appointment with one of our priests.

Inquiry and Journey Class

  • A six-week course of discovery in the Christian Faith, the Episcopal Tradition, and life as a member of the St. Stephen’s community.
  • Sundays in Lent, beginning March 5, 9:30-10:15, Pecore Hall

Faith in Action Workshop

  • Instruction, encouragement, and practice in telling our personal stories and giving Christian witness in the political arena.
  • Sundays in March, beginning March 5, 4:00-5:00 pm, Pecore Hall

Lenten Suppers

  • Simple supper, along with guest speakers on the subject of finances.  These sessions will cover such topics as budgeting, healthcare, debt management, retirement planning, and giving.
  • Thursdays in Lent, beginning March 9, 6 p.m., Pecore Hall

 
Additionally, the following online resources are available to offer daily meditations through social media or subscribed to your email: