First, here are the devotional activities available to you during this holy season, to guide you into a deeper and stronger relationship with God, transfiguring “from glory to glory” as an individual and, perhaps even more importantly, as the Church:
Bible Study (Zoom) Tonight!: Each Monday evening, 7pm, through Lent. Our first gathering will be Monday, February 27. Led by The Ven. Dr. Jay Koyle. I’ll be sending out the Zoom invitation very soon…If you’d like to join in, please email me to let me know (email@example.com).
The Apostle Paul: online or in-person course at the Cathedral. Every Wednesday, 7pm, through March. The instructor will be The Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson, a Pauline scholar. Almost everything we thought we knew about Paul has now been proven wrong. I don’t know of any registration deadline so, if you haven’t signed on yet, simply send an email to The Rev. Katherine Walker saying you’d like to register: firstname.lastname@example.org
Book Study with Archbishop Anne: The book is Failure: What Jesus Said About Sin, Mistakes, and Messing Stuff Up by Bishop Emma Ineson. Available through amazon.ca (Kindle version, too). There will be one introductory evening session during Lent (March 9th 7pm to 9pm) and one evening session during Eastertide (Wednesday April 12th 7pm to 9pm). This will allow participants the opportunity to read the book during Lent and participate fully in the discussion during Eastertide. Everyone is welcome. Please register by emailing Liz Hamel at email@example.com so that she can send you the Zoom link for both online sessions.
Lenten Lunches: 12pm – 1pm each Wednesday in Lent (i.e. each Wednesday in March). They will be held at Emmaus on Wellington Street. This first Wednesday is also hosted by the folk at Emmaus as well (i.e. they are providing the soup and sandwiches and reflection).
Ember Days in Lent: this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Lenten Ember Days. What does that mean? The English title for these days, “Ember,” is derived from their Latin name: Quatuor Temporum, meaning the “Four Times” or “Four Seasons.” How this came about is actually not certain – in the early church, there were only three Ember seasons. Today, these four “times” are set apart for special prayer and fasting and for the ordination of the clergy. The Ember Weeks are the complete weeks following (1) Holy Cross Day (September 14); (2) the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13); (3) the first Sunday in Lent; and (4) Pentecost (Whitsunday). The current practice is to count the Ember Days directly as the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following the third Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of Lent, Pentecost Sunday, and the third Sunday of September.
A Note About Fasting: Since Ember Days are days of special prayer and fasting and we happen to be gathering for our first Lenten Lunch on this first Ember Day in Lent, what should you do if you are fasting? First, fasting is an ancient pathway into greater closeness with God. In a nutshell, we turn our attention from our physical needs to our spiritual needs. We spend more time in prayer (more time in God’s presence) to help us achieve this and to give us strength and comfort and joy (instead of the irritability of hunger and denial). Fasting increases our awareness that we are to rely on God to fill our needs so that when we do partake in food, it is in gratitude to God. Fasting does not mean that you completely go without food and water for 40 days and 40 nights – you’d soon be dead or in the hospital. Fasting can be done in many different ways and I can tell you what I have chosen to do. Throughout Lent, I have chosen to reduce my calorie intake by about 500 calories every day. In addition, each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are more intense days of fasting…only a couple hundred calories early in the day and then a very light meal after sunset. So, this Wednesday, when it is a day of fasting for everyone yet we are gathering around food, I will have a token bit of food. Perhaps you could choose to have your very light meal at that time. People who have medical conditions such as diabetes should not engage in fasting at all unless they have permission – and guidelines – from their doctor or nurse practitioner.
Why do we use the colour purple during Lent?: Purple is the color of royalty, which was most commonly used in the Byzantine religious icons. It is intended to show the glory of Jesus Christ and the Mother of God. It is not surprising, then, that in our seasons of waiting for our King – and for our King to “open the kingdom of heaven to all believers” (Te Deum), the traditional colour we see is purple. It has come to represent, therefore, waiting and preparation – especially with penitential self-reflection during these times.
For Your Devotions:
Monday, February 27th is the commemoration of George Herbert, Priest and Poet, died 1633. George was Welsh but spent most of his life in England. He was born into a wealthy family and was sent off to be educated at Cambridge with the intention of becoming a priest. He was side-tracked for a number of years by a position as the university’s orator and then life at court. When King James I died, George turned his attention back to the priesthood and, after his ordination, was beloved by his parishioners for his dedication to holding daily Morning and Evening Prayer in the church, his kindness, and his generosity. He died of consumption, just seven years into his priesthood, before his 40th birthday. He wrote the words to one of my favourite hymns…King of Glory, King of Peace. For more info: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/110.html
Wednesday, March 1st is the memorial of David, Bishop of Menevia, Wales, died about 544. David is the patron saint of Wales, often depicted with a white dove on his shoulder because of a popular legend…Apparently, as he was preaching one day, the land beneath him grew into a hill so that he could more easily be seen and heard – and a white dove landed on his shoulder and stayed there as he was preaching. David had been determined to lead a quiet life in a monastery he’d founded but the people (and God) had other plans for him and he was reluctantly made a bishop. So much for a quiet, secluded life. To read more… https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-David
Thursday, March 2nd is the commemoration of Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, Missionary, died 672. Chad is credited with having Christianized the English kingdom of Mercia but that almost didn’t happen…Chad was originally consecrated as the Bishop of York but, apparently someone else had as well. Oops. The Archbishop of Canterbury charged Chad with improper ordination and Chad resigned. The Archbishop was impressed with Chad’s humility and made sure he was ordained as a bishop elsewhere…in Mercia. To read more… https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Chad
Friday, March 3rd is the commemoration of John and Charles Wesley, Priests and Evangelists, died 1791 and 1788. John was the 15th and Charles the 18th (Wow!) child of Samuel Wesley. Samuel was an Anglican clergyman and his wife was a Puritan. You may think of John and Charles as belonging to a different denomination (Methodist) but they were both singularly loyal to the Church of England. They began a movement that strictly adhered to the worship and discipline (“method”) of the Prayer Book. They unnerved some conservative Anglicans with their conversion experiences, evangelical style, and ignoring of parish boundaries. We probably are all more familiar with Charles since we see his name pop up regularly as author of many of our hymns…He wrote over 6000 hymns! For more info: https://standingcommissiononliturgyandmusic.org/2011/03/03/march-3-john-and-charles-wesley/