“Create and make in us new and contrite hearts…” BCP 264
These words are taken from the opening prayer of the Ash Wednesday service. They are found in the middle of the prayer, preceded by the awareness of God’s mercy, and followed by our acknowledgment of sinfulness and our petition for forgiveness, using such terms as “wretchedness” and “lamenting.” Create and make in us new and contrite hearts… It’s such an open and earnest prayer for God to breathe new life into us. But how does that happen?
Lent in a time of confusion
We enter our Lenten observance tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, having lived with a prevailing disquietude for the past year or so. The smell of COVID, politics, civil unrest, conspiracy, and all manner of world conflict has filled our nostrils and stifled the pure fresh Ruach, the Breath of God. It is time to shake off the oppression, the preoccupation, the tyranny of distraction; it is time to “turn from [our] wickedness…and live” (BCP 269). Who today isn’t in need of a new heart?
As we prepare for the revelation of God’s sacrifice for us, as we prepare for the overwhelming truth of God’s love for us, we must honestly look at ourselves to understand why. That, in part, is what Lent is about: suffering in the self-aware evaluation of shortcomings, acknowledging the distance and distractions we have allowed to come into our hearts and being part of God’s re-creation.
There are many devotionals and prayer practices available to guide us through this process, to help us reflect and repent as Easter draws near. Let me commend to you the power of a people gathered. Our congregational life together is important, and a worthy place to encounter God’s heart-remaking business. It is the world that seeks to divide and break apart; it is the world that champions autonomy and individuality at the expense of love and fidelity; this is not of God. Remember, God lifts up the body, the Body as an important reality of Christian life: You are one in Christ. Our community is blessed by your presence and lacking when you are not there. Please join us for this year’s Lenten devotion and spiritual program:
Wednesday Night Lenten Program
March 9th – April 6th via zoom 7-8:30 pm
“New Eyes on Christ: Seeing things we’ve never heard”
Join this five-week study as we delve into the Scriptures to encounter the person and teachings of Jesus in a new way. Through a multi-media approach including dramatizations, music, and imagery, we will revisit well-known Bible stories and lessons to come away changed, to be remade, to—well, to welcome new and clean hearts. We aren’t just praying it; we are expectant and receiving it! As we travel the Way of the Cross through Lent, we will be fed and uplifted by Christ as we grow closer to him and better understand his lessons for us.
Ash Wednesday services are in person in the sanctuary (and on Zoom) March 2nd at 12:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Wednesday Lenten Program Schedule:
7:15 Compline (sign up to lead if you wish!)
7:30-8:30 Program (Specific study/stories TBA in next week’s CC)
Peace in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†