THE SEASON OF LENT

Posted by ajenkins on January 30, 2013 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

SET APART FOR GOD’S WORK IN YOU

This coming Wednesday, February 13 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This invitation in worship on that day is a keystone of this season of preparation for Easter.

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church,

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.”

-Book of Common Prayer, p.265

This invitation is the doorway into Lent. Upon first hearing this invitation it is easy to think, “Well Lent is here again and these are the things I am supposed to do to get through Lent.” But what if it is not just about getting through Lent? Maybe the real question is, “How will Lent get through to me?”
We often think of Lent as a penitential season and it is. But far too often “penitential” is misunderstood and Lent often becomes nothing more than a season of blame, guilt, regret, and disappointment. That is not what Lent is about. In fact, the very first sentence of worship for Ash Wednesday says, “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made….” If that is God’s attitude then it should also be ours. We fully believe
“What God creates, God loves; and what God loves, God loves everlastingly.”         St. Iraneaus
We need to hear these words deep in our souls. We need to hear these words as applicable to us, to those we love, to our friends and families, to those we do not like, and to those we do not even know or want to know.
The Lenten invitation is an invitation to the interior life, a call to discover and live into our true identity, our identity in God. Who we are in God is who we are. And who we are in God is a beloved son or daughter. We are no longer dependent on the culture to tell us who we are, nor are we controlled by our own estimation of our identity.
Lent invites us to self-reflection in order to consider the ways in which we have allowed our fears, attitudes, behaviors, our accomplishments, successes and failures, as well as the opinions of others to tell us who we are, to separate us from God, ourselves, and each other. Lent invites us to repent of, fast from, and let go of those false identities and recover our true identity as God’s holy people made in the image and likeness of God.
Just as I have continually prayed for you to have an overwhelming Epiphany. I now pray for you to be so filled and encouraged by the Holy Spirit of God that the Presence of Christ will drive away and heal every scab of our broken and fallen culture. Then our shared season of Lent will be one of DISCOVERY for you.
OUR PRAYER FILLED SEARCH FOR AN ASSISTANT PASTOR
Our Search Committee is fully formed and at work and at prayer. By Divine Appointment (that is without advertising) we have five candidates. These men are all pastors who are an encouragement as to the future and power of the Church. We have already interviewed one candidate and I must say that our Search Committee did a fine job. In a Godly search process the action of discernment goes both ways. Just as we are praying to discern whom God wants us to call, the candidate also has to discern if God is drawing them to us and our shared ministry. Candidates are an active part of the interview process. They ask questions. I couldn’t have been more proud and more blessed than to hear our Committee’s answers of faith, prayer and love of our Lord and Saint James. We are in good hands. I have given the Search Committee only one qualification to look for. “Find someone with whom you can fall in love, because they love Jesus.”
IT’S A SABBATICAL
The plans are fully formed now for the educational portion of my sabbatical to begin July 21st through September 21st. I begin at St. George’s College, Jerusalem with a course entitled The Palestine of Jesus. Following that two week course I will live with Rabbi Natan Ophir, a professor at Hebrew University for a month during which time I will study and also travel, I pray, to Sinai and St. Catherine’s Monastery. During my last two weeks I will return to St. George’s for a course entitled, The Children of Abraham. I am eager to go and eager to return with all that I know our Lord will have me share with you.

Arthur