The Season of Lent

Early Christians observed “a season of penitence and fasting” in preparation for Easter and in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. In recent years, Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all 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).

 “Create and make in us new and contrite hearts.” (rom the Collect for Ash Wednesday)

Lent is a season of reflection and renewal. It is a time of slowing down, taking stock, and adjusting our focus so that we might find new strength and fresh purpose in our daily living. We pray that God’s Holy Spirit will “create and make in us new and contrite hearts,” by turning us back towards Jesus’ ways of compassion, humility, love, and mercy. 

Maybe in this particular season of Lent, your moments of silence and prayer might focus more on the many blessings you do have, and less on the things that have been taken away or lost. Perhaps you might undertake an inventory of gratitude. 

The Way of the Cross does move us towards a reflection on the suffering and mortality of our human living. But, as those baptized in Christ, we know and set our hope on the other side of Good Friday. We are people of Resurrection. 

What needs re-creation in my life? What renewal does my soul desire? Whom and what have I been ignoring? What contrition do I need to undertake so that my heart may be unburdened and filled with joy?

These are some of the central questions of this holy season. I pray that together we will find the courage and humility to engage them as we renew our mission and ministry in Jesus’ name. May we emerge from the Lenten wilderness, and this pandemic wilderness, as people filled with the grace and peace of the Risen One.

Ways to Celebrate Lent at Home

Livestream YouTube Worship with Bishop Mark Bourlakas

Bishop Mark will Livestream Ash Wednesday Worship Service and services for all Sundays in Lent. The Ash Wednesday service will be streamed Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 12 p.m. and each Sunday during Lent (February 21 – March 21) at 10: 30 a.m. The Livestream services are available on the Southwestern Diocesan YouTube channel: DIOSWVA YouTube Channel

Liturgy from Rev. Shivaun Wilkinson

If you won’t be attending a church service online, you can use this liturgy from the Rev. Shivaun Wilkinson. It’s especially appropriate for households with younger and older kids. It includes “burying the Alleluia,” (literally digging a hole in the yard and burying written notes), “blowing away the sins” (with bubbles, of course), and the imposition of ashes. 

Pray Daily with a Coloring Calendar

Now that you’ve intentionally marked the beginning of the season, don’t lose the Lenten momentum. You can create a daily prayer calendar. In each space on the calendar, write a word or the name of a person to pray for. Then draw, doodle or color around it, all the while praying for that person or meditating on that word. Think of it as a visual prayer. Need a little inspiration? Praying in Color offers some eye-catching printable calendar templates that can help you get started.

Mission St. Claire Daily Office (website / smartphone app)

You may visit The Daily Office from The Mission St. Clare for recorded hymns, church calendar, morning prayer, noonday and evening prayer along with many more resources. Mission St. Clare also offers a smartphone or ipad app in the iTunes or Google Play store for free downloads.

Our Worship at St. Stephen’s

Our worship is still alive and we are evaluating week by week whether we can safely gather in person. When possible, we are meeting in the church, practicing social distancing and using face coverings. When it’s not possible to gather in person, we invite you to worship with us online with our weekly recorded Sunday worship services, which are available from our Facebook page. We also invite you to sign up for our email newsletter on the side link to stay current with St. Stephen’s news and events.

Your online donation is a simple, safe process. You can donate online by using the following link (Tithely Donation Link) or downloading the app, Tithely from iTunes or Google Play Store. We welcome your donation to support our Parish and our ministries. If you are a Kroger’s customer, you can also set St. Stephen’s as your local charity when you log onto your My Kroger account. Please support our ministry that has grown online to include our wider Forest community and beyond.

May you be blessed with the peace and wisdom of the Spirit!

Guidelines for Regathering in Worship Inside and Outside and in our Church  

Our goal is to care for and respect our neighbor’s health and well-being and our own; we encourage you to follow these guidelines: 

  • Masks will be required.  If you forgot yours or don’t have one, we will provide a mask for you
  • Please maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing at all times including before and after services (unless you are in a couple or family group who may sit together)
  • Those with high risk conditions or immunocompromised are advised to NOT attend in person and to worship with us with our online recording of the service.
  • Ushers will be taking your temperature with a touch free thermometer when you arrive; if it is over 100.4 you will need to return home and worship with us online.
  • If you have had fever AND cough or shortness of breath in the last 14 days or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, please refrain from attending.
  • We will be greeting each other and exchanging the Peace in touch-free ways:  waving, nodding, air hugs, etc.
  •  Please avoid socializing before or after the service so that we can maintain our safe distances and minimize the time spent of possible exposure.  

Thank you for your cooperation in keeping our congregation and visitor’s safe while we regather in person!

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