The word Lent comes from Anglo Saxon word lencten: “spring.” Lent is the springtime of the church, a time of new life and growth that, in the Northern hemisphere, corresponds with the springtime awakening of the earth. In Lent, the community “prepares with joy for the Easter feast; that, fervent in prayer and in works of mercy, and renewed by Word and Sacrament, we may come to the fullness of grace prepared for those who love God.” (Proper Preface for Lent, The Book of Common Prayer page 379),
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (this year February 26), our annual day for self-examination and repentance. We come before God, as individuals and a community, seeking forgiveness for our failures and shortcomings of the past year. We receive ashes on our foreheads, an ancient penitential practice and a reminder of our mortality. And so, we embark on our Lenten journey toward Easter’s renewal of life and promise of resurrection.
The journey is not a gloomy one, but it is marked by a certain austerity, a clearing away of non-essentials that we may, in simplicity and preparation, reconnect with that which is essential: our relationships with God and one another, our care for the world which God has made, our service to those who are in need. Our destination is Holy Week and the liturgy of the Sacred Three Days, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, in which we enter into the Passion of Christ, his dying and rising, his self-offering for the life of the world.
Candidates for baptism, confirmation and reception into the Episcopal Church are in the final weeks of preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil and in the Great Fifty Days of Easter. The whole community walks that path with them, for we, the Church, are all preparing to return to the waters of baptism to renew the vows by which we committed ourselves to the life of the Church and the ministry of Christ in the world.
In Lent, we are a community on pilgrimage. Join us as we rejoice again in God’s forgiveness and mercy, traveling toward Holy Week and Easter, offering ourselves to be born anew, an Easter people.