Lent is upon us and we are once again presented with a special time for refocusing our attention on the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we will be ready to embrace the good news of the Resurrection. We cannot reach resurrection without the full journey to the tomb first. In the Gospel reading from Ash Wednesday Jesus instructs us to pray, fast and give to the poor. While I know most of us are familiar with the practice of “giving up” something for Lent, I would encourage you to go beyond that approach and try “taking on” something as well.
Prayer is at the heart of the Lenten journey and we are invited into many different types of prayer during this season. What better thing to add to your devotion than to experience as much prayer during Lent as you can? This coming Sunday we pray the Great Litany, the oldest piece of extant original-English liturgy we have. First penned by Thomas Crammer in 1544, this prayer is the perfect starting place for Sunday worship in Lent. Every petition in the Litany is a corporate plea, binding us together on a shared road.
Each Friday at Church of Our Saviour we will have the chance to pray the Rosary. This prayer may not be familiar to many of you but it has been part of our Christian history since the 13th century. This memorial prayer is designed almost as a mantra-style prayer– breathing the repetitive Hail Mary’s in and out. It is a beautiful intercessory prayer which provides a space for contemplative spiritual exploration. Even if you have never prayed it before, you should consider experiencing at least once this season.
On Good Friday we will pray the Stations of the Cross (the Way of the Cross), a devotion to the Passion of Christ which recalls a series of events at the end of Jesus’ life from his condemnation to his burial. This prayer is not merely marked by our words but by our movement as we make a procession from station to station in the church, imitating the practice of visiting the places of Jesus’ Passion in the Holy Land by early Christian pilgrims.
Step by step, Lent teaches us many spiritual practices, including letting go– emptying ourselves so we can be filled once again with the Spirit of God. This was at the heart of Jesus’ teachings and ministry. One way we symbolize this gift of letting go at COS is by writing down whatever thing in your life you are ready to release to God onto a wooden slat and dropping it into the fire pit in the narthex to be burned in the “new” fire at the Great Vigil.
There are many opportunities to pray this season, in our private times and in our corporate worship. My hope for you is that you experience the fullness of the Lenten journey and immerse yourself in all this season has to offer. May the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus walk with you as you walk with him– from the desert to the tomb and into resurrection!