Lent

Dearly Beloved of God our Father,

Lent means “spring,” reminding us that when the winter subsides and the snow melts, what remained hidden by the snow is now exposed.  The neglected things, the things we forgot about or ignored, the things not directly exposed to warmth and sunlight are now coming into the light.  The practices, and things we employed in order to simply “survive” through the harsh winter now have to be cleaned up.  The sand spread on our icy driveways, the animal refuse, toys, garbage we shoveled away with the snow, the old rotting leaves, all have to be removed if the full benefit of the sun is going to be realized and things are going to grow.  The mindsets, lifestyle choices, and attitudes we’ve employed in order to “survive” and maintain the illusion of safety and control are now exposed.  It’s time to sweep our lives clean.   This is Lent.  

The Lenten colors and textures are deep purple, representing penitence (willingness to be humble and broken) and burlap representing the discomfort and disruption of repenting, recalibrating, and reorienting our lives toward Jesus.  The theme I’ve sensed the Spirit of God inviting us to explore this Lent is “Deliver me O God, and I shall not want.”  When we surrender the actions and ways of thinking that are outside of God’s holy design that we employ in order to “self-protect” and get our needs met, we are able to taste and see that the Lord is good, Jesus is better.  His love is better than wine, better than life, and we shall not want.

Every follower of Jesus needs a recalibration of our belief systems, mindsets, lifestyle choices and attitudes, and a reorientation toward the goal of our Faith – mystical union with Jesus and the perfection of Holy Love for God and others.  We have provided simple prayer resources for you and your family for Lent, please consider using them for the next forty days. 

Today let us come to the Table humble, teachable, hungry, naked, and poor, for in “having nothing, we possess everything” (2 Cor. 6:10).

A Holy Lent to you and yours,

Fr. Justin+

Epiphany

January 6- February 2

In the Western churches, the Epiphany (‘manifestation’) became an occasion to celebrate one element in the story of Christ’s birth, the visit of the far-travelled magi, understood as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles... In this perspective, Epiphanytide is an apt season to pray for the worldwide mission of the Church.The feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, appropriately falls in the Epiphany season, as does the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

In the Eastern churches, the Epiphany is, rather, the celebration of Christ’s baptism at the hands of John, when the heavens were opened and a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be God’s beloved Son.

-Times and Seasons, The Church of England

Christmastide

December 25-January 5

The celebration of Christ’s incarnation at Christmas is one of the two poles of the Christian year. The wonderful mystery of God’s dwelling among us in the fullness of humanity, as Emmanuel, foretold by the prophets and born of Mary, provides the material of the feast. Christmas is much more then than simply the celebration of Jesus’ birth…the task of the Christmas liturgy is to recall us, amid all the joyful customs and celebrations of Christmas, to this central truth of the Word made flesh for our salvation.

It is, of course, Christ’s nativity that has provided the occasion for this festival of the incarnation, since the end of the third century. The Christmas crib and the nativity play can both be said to descend from the tableau of Christ’s birth that Francis of Assisi arranged when he celebrated Christmas at Greccio in 1223. Christmas carols are a medieval tradition, which has been notably developed from the end of the nineteenth century. The Festival of Lessons and Carols is itself an influential English creation of the late nineteenth century, made widespread by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, in the first half of the twentieth.

The Christmas season is often celebrated for twelve days, ending with the Epiphany (which takes place on January 6th).

-Times and Seasons, The Church of England

Advent

December 1-December 24

Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as Judge at the end of time. The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth, they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement. The characteristic note of Advent is therefore expectation, rather than penitence.

Church decorations are simple and spare, and purple is the traditional liturgical color. In the northern hemisphere, the Advent season falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas. The lighting of candles on an Advent wreath was imported into Britain from northern Europe in the nineteenth century, and is now a common practice.

-Times and Seasons, The Church of England

Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time refers to the season celebrated in two segments in the Christian liturgical calendar: from the Monday following the Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. The English name "Ordinary" translates the Latin term ordinals, indicating that the weeks are numbered in a series (ordinal numbers).  It is a time for growth and maturing of the Church. It is also sometimes called Kingdomtide as it is seen as the time of Advancing for the Kingdom of Jesus.

Eastertide

 

Easter Sunday-Pentecost Sunday

From earliest times, Christians have gathered through the night of Easter to recall the story of God’s saving work, from creation through to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Easter Liturgy is not merely a presentation of God’s work. It is meant to be a real experience of new life for the worshipper, a passing from darkness to light which offers hope to all the faithful. It is therefore important that the preparation is prayerful and thorough. The Easter Vigil marks the end of the emptiness of Holy Saturday, and leads into the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The singing of the Exsultet, the ancient hymn of triumph and rejoicing, links this night of our Christian redemption to the Passover night of Israel’s redemption out of Egypt.

Christian baptism is a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, a dying to sin in order to be reborn in him, and the Easter Vigil was from early Christian times a preferred occasion for baptism. It is fittingly a time when those who are already Christians may repeat with renewed commitment the promises of their own baptism, and strengthen their sense of incorporation into the royal and priestly ministry of the whole people of God. The Easter Gospel is proclaimed with all the joy and splendour that the church can find.…All the resources of the church – music, flowers, bells, colours – are used to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The ‘Alleluia’, which has been silent throughout Lent, returns.

The Great Fifty Days of Eastertide form a single festival period in which the tone of joy created at the Easter Vigil is sustained through the following seven weeks, and the Church celebrates the gloriously risen Christ…In those places where the custom of lighting the Easter Candle at the beginning of Easter is followed, the lit Candle stands prominently in church for all the Eastertide services.The Alleluia appears frequently in liturgical speech and song; Morning Prayer begins with the traditional collection of Pauline texts known as the Easter Anthems, and white or gold vestments and decorations emphasize the joy and brightness of the season.

-Times and Seasons, The Church of England