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Deep Church Musings

“A Holy Lent Experienced in a Holy Place: Our Church”

by The Rev. Dr. William Carl Thomas

When worshiping, church is very much a place for respite and refuge from a seemingly harsh and demanding world. Being comfortable in your favorite pew and being comforted by your surroundings can be a blessing. Yet, too much comfort, even in God’s House can move us away from recognizing our utter need for God in all things. Lent is a time for self-examination about our relationship with God as we find ourselves following Jesus on his way to Jerusalem. We take this time of preparation to better understand why his victory over death (a death he freely accepted on the cross) has meaning in our lives.

During Lent we attempt to change our worship environment with the thought that we are going into the desert as Jesus did for forty days. We do this by:

  • Covering as much of the brass as we can in the sanctuary of the Main Church and the Historic Church
  • Removing much of the “moveable” brass as possible and replacing the brass on the altar with ceramic candle holders.
  • While we do not say the word, “alleluia” during worship, we hold this expression of “Praise the Lord” deep in our hearts. This is the depth from which our joy is made complete on Easter we once again cry aloud, “Alleluia.”
  • Pray the Great Litany (Book of Common Prayer, page 148) as we did on the First Sunday of Lent.
  • Use the Trisagion (Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us) as the hymn of praise.
  • Offer a Litany for Lent as the Prayers of the People during the 2nd through 5th Sundays of Lent. This is based on the Litany of Penitence from Ash Wednesday with an additional set of petitions to which the people cry out to God, “Give us your grace.
  • Pray the Agnus Dei (which begins O Lamb of God) after the breaking of the bread.
  • All this is really not so different from giving up something for Lent. We are trying to find ways to change the rhythm of our lives in order to better apprehend God’s Holy Invitation to accept and share the love we find in Jesus Christ. I’d be interested to know if these are new traditions or ones that have been a part of your worshiping life.

    Father Bill has announced his retirement. Please click here to read a copy of his letter to the parish.

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