In so many ways, this whole pandemic has felt like an extended season of Lent – we wait and wait in the valleys of death for the release and renewal of the Resurrection. In our darkest, most desperate moments, we cling to the promise that the mystery of the Resurrection makes: that indeed there will be light at the end of the tunnel, that the challenges in our lives are, in fact, just for now and not forever. That even death is no match for God’s unconditional love. We believe that God is always engaging in this death-defying, outpouring of love and new life; Easter is when we celebrate it. And Lent is the season we mark to help us pay attention to it.
This Lent we are partnering with our neighbouring congregation, St Timothy’s. Together, we have created a package of resources to help you mark a Holy Lent in your own lives. We have a number of opportunities for Zoom gatherings, but many of the resources included can be done on your own or with your household or a phone-based buddy. While this may not be the Lent we were hoping for, we hope it will still be a season which draws us closer to God and makes us more aware of the power of God to break into our lives.
In addition to the materials you’ll find here (details below), we will hold Ash Wednesday worship on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 7:00 pm via Zoom.
At this time, we are planning for the current COVID-19 restrictions to last into Holy Week and Easter. If it is possible for us to offer Zoom Worship with an In-Person Option as we did when we first returned to worship last June, we will. In the meantime, know that in March we will send more information and resources to pray through Holy Week and Easter at home and with us through Zoom.
This has been, without a doubt, an incredibly challenging time for all of us. I thank you for your care of one another – I know you have been holding each other in prayer, staying connected with lots of phone calls, and I encourage you to continue reaching out to others and to me.
“Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.” ~Psalm 51: 12-13~
WHAT WAS IN THE PACKAGE?
If you did not receive a package and would like these resources, please contact the Church Office.
SHROVE TUESDAY SOCIAL HOUR INVITE: Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, is a traditional time of feasting – of eating up sweet and fatty foods. An Anglican tradition is to mark this evening with a pancake dinner. Obviously, we can’t have that meal together in-person, but we do hope to join together on Zoom for a social hour. Bring your pancakes to eat while we chat if you would like.
ASH WEDNESDAY AT HOME RESOURCES: We have included a finger labyrinth and prayer tool and a card with the words we normally say when we impose a cross of ash on our foreheads for Ash Wednesday. Remember you can also join us for worship this day at 7:00 pm on Zoom (see above). A note: ashes are one of the physical markers we use at the beginning of Lent to remind ourselves of our frailty and utter dependence on God’s mercy and grace. When we say “you are dust and to dust you shall return” we are remembering that our lives are short and our wisdom small compared to God’s cosmic permanence. We are remembering that despite this – maybe even because of this – God, our Creator, offers us love beyond all our imaginings.
COMPLINE FOR LENT: As we did during Advent, we are inviting you to join us for a short, simple service of prayer at the end of the day. We will do this weekly on Thursdays, starting on February 18. See the blue sheet for more detail. An order of service for it is included if you want to pray this yourself; and the words will also be available on PowerPoint in the Zoom call on Thursdays.
DAILY PRACTICE FOR LENT: “Breaking the Chains” is a daily count-down activity for Lent that is designed for everyone, but especially with school-aged children and their adults in mind. You’ll find instructions and the pages to make a simple paper chain. Each link represents a day between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday and each contains an idea to think about or an action to take. They are based on the idea that in the Resurrection, God breaks the chains of sin and death and that in Lent we can work to see and participate in God’s chain-breaking work in the world. Instructions are on the green sheet.
LENTEN STUDY: You’ll find information about a weekly Lenten Study also based around the idea of breaking the chains on the blue flyer. Taking place on Wednesday evenings via Zoom, these will start on Wednesday, February 24, at 7:30 pm. While we invite you to join us for all of the sessions, they can stand alone so you can attend only one or two if your schedule allows.