I was not raised in a Christian tradition that observed Lent as the best way to prepare for Easter. Mostly what we did was dye eggs. My mom would hide chocolate and plan the menu around ham. There were Easter baskets and we hunted eggs on what I have now learned to call Holy Saturday. We shopped for our new spring and summer outfits and were allowed to wear them first on Easter Sunday. My sisters got two dresses. I got slacks and a jacket or a two-piece suit.
In that brand of Christianity we did more to diminish Easter than the 5&10s and grocery stores. Add Walmart and his retail cousins to the public’s current practices and how we teach and learn our Episcopal version of Lent, Holy Week and Easter starts to feel like mobilizing a rebel army.
I’m learning that there is so much Christian history embedded in the 40 days that our puny disciplines – so many of them born of our unhealthy cravings for what a friend has called the Lenten Episcopal trinity of “chocolate, caffeine and vodka” – miss the connections to the saints who have walked before us AND the world saved in Christ’s resurrection.
So we have chosen to name our practice during these 40 days, Lent is for Learning. With packets and brackets and pamphlets and booklets we will do some of that learning about who has walked the path before us and how that path can lead us into witness to the whole world.
But a better part of our learning will have to be right here at 338 Academy St. Our gatherings on Sunday mornings will include our praying prayers of sorts mostly penitential before we do anything else. We'll do a different entrance rite each week.
Lent 1 -- The Great Litany (chanted)
Lent 2 -- The Supplications, Exhortation and confession
Lent 3 -- Penitential Order with Decalogue
Lent 4 -- Suffrages B, Exhortation and Confession
Lent 5 -- The Great Litany from Enriching Our Worship.
All are prayers, some ancient some modern and meant to join us, embed us in the very same history as our saints, the very same world as those in need or in harm’s way.
Our addition to each week’s prayers by walking our way through the Stations of the Cross every Friday at noon is yet another joining to that same history and world in need.
Lent is for Learning will also provide us a chance to focus on the world’s needs for outreach and ministry, both the world immediately around us and the world reached through agencies like Episcopal Relief and Development. Wednesday Nights at 7pm from March 4 to 18 and Sunday mornings at 9:15 from February 22 to March 8 we’ll show the 3 episodes of A Path Appears, the PBS documentary telling the stories of efforts at home and abroad to walk with and learn from those most in need. We’ll hear the stories of abused women and children, families imprisoned by poverty, government and non-government agents as they have made a road or have made it so “a path appears” just by the constancy of their efforts that others can also walk to a better life, to a world resurrected.
Lent is for Learning and we have so much to learn.