the season of Lent at saint benedict's table

some ways in which you can engage the season of Lent

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ash_cross.gifhe biblical book of Exodus tells the story of the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. It is a particularly dramatic story, culminating in a last minute escape across the Red Sea. Once safely on the other side, however, the people find themselves in the Sinai desert, utterly dependent on the grace of God. As the story unfolds, it turns out that they need to be in that wilderness for 40 years… hardly what they had anticipated when they’d first heard Moses’ words about freedom.

Yet it is abundantly clear that in order for that people to become a community under God, the wilderness is precisely where they needed to be. It is a theme that is echoed in the gospel story of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert; in fact, according to Mark, the Spirit drives him into that place.

Each year the church seeks to follow a practice inspired by these wilderness narratives, and so we voluntarily set aside the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Easter as our own desert time. The tone of worship changes a bit; the readings follow penitential themes; the invitation to look hard at the shape of our own lives is issued.

But this isn’t narrowly about Sunday worship. In fact, strictly speaking Sundays aren’t even counted as Lenten days. Go ahead and count on a calendar; there are actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday through to Easter Eve.

So some practical ideas on doing Lent as a practice:

Give something up:

  • Find something that you can take out of your routine for those 40 days (remembering, of course, that Sundays are exempt from the discipline!) Could be a food or drink item: chocolate, dessert, coffee, whatever.
  • You could choose to shift a routine habit: refrain from using the car stereo, swear off clothes shopping, cut down on TV time.
  • Take meat out of your diet on Fridays, as a way of preparing for Good Friday. Oh, and on Good Friday observe a fast until after the 4:00pm liturgy.

Take something on:

  • Add something to your daily or weekly routine, that can help focus you spiritually for this time.
  • Take up a specific book you could read day by day, or commit to a discipline of reading through the psalms or one of the gospels.
  • Add a new routine of daily prayer
  • Use the daily Lenten Calendar from HOME/OMUKA as a way to both offer daily alms and to raise your own awareness of their work
  • Commit to taking part in the Wednesday evening Lenten services.

But here is something to keep in mind:

None of this Lenten practice needs to be done in order to satisfy God. It is not to earn some sort of holy brownie points that you fast on Good Friday or give up chocolate for 40 days, nor is it to convince God of your sanctity that you take on a prayer routine or drop coins into a collection box. To quote Philip Yancy, “there is nothing you can do to make God love you more; there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.”

So really, the only reason to do any of this is to deepen our awareness of our own needs and hungers and shortcomings. To voluntarily explore desert terrain is to be reminded that we actually haven’t got everything all sewn up, and that maybe-just maybe-we have some growing to do.

And that is the whole point of Lent.

So what all is happening?

February 25-7:00pm Ash Wednesday liturgy

March 4-7:00pm Lenten Night Prayer

March 11-7:00pm Lenten Night Prayer

March 18-7:00pm Lenten Night Prayer

March 21-Lenten Quiet Day at Rivendell House.*

March 21-7:00pm Hear the Silence for Lent

March 25-7:00pm Lenten Night Prayer

March 31-7:00pm Screening of Into Great Silence in the All Saints Chapel*

April 1-7:00pm Lenten Night Prayer

April 7-7:00pm Stations of the Cross for kids and families

April 8-7:00pm Stations of the Cross

April 9-5:45pm Maundy Thursday supper*

April 10-4:00pm Good Friday Liturgy

April 12-7:00pm Easter Celebrations
*More info to be posted on the site in the coming weeks.

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