Dear Brothers & Sisters,
As we enter the season of Lent, the service for Ash Wednesday begins with these words:
“Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting.”
Today, many of us feel burdened … we rush from thing to thing, and we look for quick fixes, not because we really want a shortcut, but because we have no time. As a culture few of us tends to prepare for anything as thoroughly as we would like.
The service continues:
“This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. In this manner, the whole Congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need that all Christians continually have to renew our repentance and faith.” BCP 2019 page 543
You get the sense that 2000 years ago, they felt the same as we do. Like us, some were hearing the good news and coming to faith for the first time, others had grown cold and were left out of all the good things happening in the body of Christ. So the early church cut out whatever it took, to make the time to prepare properly and start again together. This way, by Easter, everyone was ready to hear a message of grace, regardless of where they’d been in the year before.
Our Lent series, Tetelestai: The Finished Work of Christ, is also designed to help us prepare for Easter well. “Tetelestai” is the word that Christ uses on the cross when he says that “it is finished”. What exactly is finished? We will never fully understand the work of the cross until he returns or calls us home, but scripture reveals many facets of what he achieved for us and why it really is such good news.
As we prepare for Easter Sunday, I would like to invite you to join in as many of the Easter Week services as you can this year. Although in style, they represent a broad range of what Anglican worship can be like, together they form just one coherent event.
The Maundy Thursday meal at 6 pm (catered for us by Zoup!) begins feeling informal, communal, intimate, and fun, but as we leave in silence, suddenly we see, with the disciples, the enormity of the weekend ahead.
On Good Friday, this year we have three different services. The spoken service of Morning Prayer at 7:30 am would be a great option for someone who has to work that day. We have a similar, traditional service in the Evening at 7:00 pm, that again is a great option for someone who is trying to make time, and perhaps juggling many things, like children or a busy day.
If you do have more time, the main service is at midday (12 noon) and with extended times of silence, readings, and cross-centered hymns, is a wonderful option for someone seeking a more contemplative and slow-paced time to prepare. They’re all different, you could come to them all, but I strongly recommend at least one.
On Easter Eve, we’ll be praying the ancient office of compline (night prayer) right as the sun begins to set at 8 pm. It’s the shortest and simplest service in the Prayerbook and a fitting way to prepare for the celebration ahead.
On Easter Sunday, we have two identical fast-paced, family friendly services at 9 am & 11 am with an Easter Egg Hunt in between.
Yours in Christ,