Lent is a season of penitence and fasting in preparation for the Paschal feast, lasting forty days in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. Lent extends from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. Christians are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).
If you need some help establishing a good Lenten discipline, check out
for some creative ideas. Day 1 provides links to a few good sites for daily worship at your computer, including
which offers Morning, Midday, Evening and Compline prayers.
at their homepage, click on “Praying the Daily Office”
Other suggestions include Don’t Moan Day: “Stop complaining for a whole day. Don’t complain about the weather, the bus being late, your boss, your lack of sleep, the coffee being lukewarm, the state of your daughter’s bedroom, the government… you name it. Instead, smile, pray, or just change the topic.” And Kettle Prayers: “Make something in your ordinary life a prayer time. Try saying the Lord’s Prayer while the kettle boils. Or pray for someone while you’re waiting at the photocopier, or when you’re pulling weights at the gym. Try using prayers that are familiar to you, but in a place where you don’t normally pray.”
Special observations during Lent
At St. John’s, the sanctuary will reflect Lent’s call for simplicity. The chalice on the Altar will not be veiled, and the bread served at Eucharist will be homemade.
Our observances in Holy Week begin Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, “new commandment,” from John 13:34. Maundy Thursday celebrations include hand washing, and commemorating the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus on the night he was betrayed with an Agape meal. Following this, the altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church. A sign-up sheet for meal provisions will be posted as Holy Week approaches.
Maundy Thursday Prayer Vigil
A prayer vigil begins immediately after the supper, following Jesus plea to “stay here and keep watch with me.” You are encouraged to sign up for a time to be with Christ through the night. You may pray and sit with a partner; the outside doors will remain locked through the night so each person will allow the next one in at the appointed time. Meditative music will be provided to help with your journey inward, if you choose. The vigil will continue through the night and morning until the Good Friday service at noon.
Good Friday is the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross. The liturgy of this day is marked by austerity and silence, and includes a unique responsive prayer called the Bidding Prayer. Holy Saturday observes a simple Liturgy of the Word, with readings commemorating the burial of Christ.
Our principal service for Easter Day will include Baptism and the Eucharist. Easter Day is the annual feast of the resurrection, and the season continues for 50 days, or a week of weeks.