THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION
NORTHWOODS, MISSOURI 63121
February 3, 2016
Dear Friends in Christ,
With Christmas still fresh in our minds, it’s hard to believe that the Season of Lent begins next Wednesday, February 10. Lent is the 40-day journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, the cross and, ultimately, an empty tomb. (Actually, it’s 46 calendar days, but Sundays are not counted since they’re always celebrations of the Resurrection).
Lent is a time of deep and profound prayer, reflection and penance. And, the traditions of the season punctuate these. Ashes are imposed on our foreheads on the first day, Ash Wednesday, as a reminder that, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The Great Litany will begin our Eucharistic worship on the first Sunday of Lent. Clergy vestments and the paraments which decorate the altar, lectern and pulpit will be purple. And each Wednesday, we’ll gather to pray the Stations of the Cross.
Unlike the weeks of Advent which are filled with numerous reminders of the particular time of the year – Christmas carols, holiday parties and decorations – Lent has few outward signs to call our attention to a faithful remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Rather, it’s both a personal discipline and our shared work. Thus, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, “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.”
During the next 40 days, we’ll regularly gather together to mark the steps of our journey.
- We will commemorate Ash Wednesday with Eucharistic worship on February 10 at 6:00 P.M.
- Throughout Lent, we will gather in the sanctuary on Wednesdays at 12:00 P.M. to walk and pray the Stations of the Cross. On the first Wednesday of March, 12-Step Noonday Prayer will follow in the Parish Hall.
- On the First Sunday of Lent, we’ll begin our worship with the traditional reading of The Great Litany (BCP, p. 148).The remainder of the Sunday services during Lent will begin with The Penitential Order (BCP, p. 351).
To guide and enrich your prayer life during this time, a Lenten calendar will be available in the narthex for each member of and visitor to Ascension. I hope you find it useful in focusing your thoughts and pray that God will bless our Lenten journey as a truly holy time.
In addition to the many activities of the Lenten season, the ministry of our parish continues.
- Our Bishop’s Committee will meet with the Vestry at All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Saturday, February 13 (11:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.) to continue the discussion of our potential relationship and the ministry we might pursue together.
- Our Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, February 21 during the regular 11:00 A.M. worship service.
I want to echo several points made by Bishop Smith during his visit last week. First, the conversation with All Saints’ has no preconditions, presumptions or presumed outcomes. Second, the Bishop and I are committed to strengthening our congregations and ensuring our long-term viability. And third, we ask you to “think outside the box,” to envision ministry with new partners and in a new way. I don’t know what this might look like, how we might be organized or even exactly what we might do. However, what I do know is that God has an exciting future for us, a future which we must discern and engage together.
Please keep Florence Ross and Susan Young – both of whom were received into The Episcopal Church last Sunday – in your prayers. And finally, deepest appreciation to all who helped make the Bishop’s visit such a wonderful and joyful time!