A Prayer attributed to St. Polycarp – Increase in us faith, truth and gentleness

February 23, 2009

Although I posted on St. Polycarp earlier today, I’d forgotten all about this prayer. I just came across it in our archives from Feb. 2007 as I was working on reposting various Lent prayers from archives here on the new version of the blog for this coming Lent.

O sweet Saviour Christ, in your undeserved love for us you were prepared to suffer the painful death of the cross: let me not be cold or even lukewarm in my love for you.

Lord help me to face the truth about myself. Help me to hear my words as others hear them, To see my face as others see me; Let me be honest enough to recognise my impatience and conceit;

Let me recognise my anger and selfishness; Give me sufficient humility to accept my own weakness for what they are. Give me the grace – at least in your presence – to say. ‘I was wrong – forgive me.’

God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, increase in us faith and truth and gentleness and grant us part and lot among the saints.

— St. Polycarp 69-115
Source: Thisischurch.com


Some *NEW* Lenten resources to recommend

February 23, 2009

Just about all of the links I included in my top ten favorite Lenten resources post earlier today were sites I’ve known about and linked repeatedly for the last several years during both Lent and Advent. That’s why they’re Top Ten material. They’re tried and true.

But there are a number of other excellent sites out there that I haven’t linked to often if at all. Most of these sites came up on my radar screen for the first time this past Advent and I’m just now browsing some of these blogs and other sites to see what they’ve got on tap for Lent. The links that follow are in no particular order…


1. Godspace blog

See especially the entries in the Lent category.  Christine Sine at Godspace has been kind enough to link to Lent & Beyond several times, both in Advent and now in Lent, but my linking her blog here is more than just a way to thank her for her link.  There are some excellent resources and posts at Godspace.  See for instance: The 2009 Lenten Guide“What is Lent anyway”, A Lenten meditation video, A liturgy for Lent, etc.

I have only skimmed through the 2009 Lenten Guide posted at Godspace, but what I’ve seen looks very encouraging.  It seems to provide an excellent balance between focusing on our own need for personal repentance and holiness and looking outward to the needs of a broken world.  It might make an excellent small group resource.


2. RCA’s Lent / Easter / Pentecost Resources page

I discovered the Reformed Church in America’s excellent seasonal liturgical and family resources back in December when I was doing a compilation of links to resources on Jesse Trees and other Advent crafts. Of particular note:  They have suggestions for celebrating Lent in the home, Children’s bulletins for Lent and Easter, an alternative to the traditional Easter Egg hunt (which includes many symbols related to Holy week and Easter, making it a good teaching tool), and worship resources for each Sunday of Lent.


3. The Story-Formed blog

I greatly enjoyed the reflections and liturgical ideas posted on this blog during Advent and am looking forward to seeing their Lenten posts.


4. Our Sunday Visitor/ Catholic Moms / Fridge Art sites:  Some Lenten activities for Children

A “hand” garland – to symbolize resolutions made

Here is a downloadable Lenten poster which might be useful for families or Sunday School classes

CatholicMom.Com – lenten activities for Children, including:  A family Lenten calendar, Stations of the Cross for Kids (including printable coloring book)

Fridge Art Lenten Crafts & Activities pageNote especially their idea for a Lenten Cross — which is basically very similar to an Advent Jesse tree in that it provides a structured way to appreciate prophecies about Christ’s crucifixion. Here’s how the Lenten Cross is described — this looks to be a really excellent idea, and all the Scripture references for each day of Lent are provided!

This family activity is similar to the Jesse Tree used at Advent. The Jesse Tree follows both the family tree of Jesus and the history of the first Advent when God’s people awaited the coming of the Messiah. The Lenten Cross simultaneously follows the Messianic prophecies through the Old Testament and matches each with its fulfillment in the Crucifixion narrative.

Like the Jesse Tree, your family Lenten Cross can be made of many materials. Some options are: a banner with Velcro dots for fastening, a wooden cross with small nails or hooks, or a laminated cardboard poster with reuseable sticky putty.


5. Some Lenten ideas and Resources from Desiring God (John Piper’s ministry)

For several years I’ve linked to wonderful Advent Poems by John Piper.  I’d never come across any Lenten resources on his website before.  Today I went and did a search to see if he had anything.  (I love it when Baptists and other evangelicals “get” Advent or Lent.)  I found two resources.  One a post on how John Piper and his family celebrate Lent and Holy Week  in their home.  I found the idea of starting with lighting seven candles and extinguishing one each week to be very intruiging.   There is also a booklet of Lenten reflections written by John’s wife Noel Piper.  These can either be used weekly during Lent or daily during Holy Week.  I am looking forward to checking these out.


6. Center for Excellence in Preaching’s Lent & Easter Resources page:

There are three main pages of interest here. First: Some great sermon outlines / reflections based on each Sunday in Lent’s Gospel reading.  Second:  Lenten Worship planning ideas, the Further Resources page – which contains several nice pages with summaries of Scriptures applying to Ash Wednesday, Lent in General, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  Very useful.

Reflecting further on the juxtaposition of the Transfiguration & Lent

February 23, 2009

Yesterday I posted excerpts from two bloggers’ entries which note the juxtaposition between the Transfiguration (the focus of the Gospel lesson in yesterday’s lectionary) and Lent, which begins on Wednesday.

Today, I discover yet another blogging friend and pastor is reflecting on this theme of the Transfiguration in relation to Lent. I suppose that’s not surprising…! But I’m struck by this continued refrain nonetheless. This time it’s Lutheran pastor Eric Swensson who’s reflecting on this juxtaposition, in what appears to be his sermon from yesterday: Turn, Turn, Turn

Here’s a key excerpt from Eric’s sermon:

The message today is called “Turn, Turn, Turn!” and concerns the need for humanity to turn toward God.

Ps 119:37 says “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” Turn away from worthless things toward something worthwhile. In some cases we need to rid our lives of really bad things, some times it is just junk, silly stuff that gets in our way, whatever it is, as Ecclesiastes says, life is about “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away..” Think about what you need to lose and what you need to get.

I want us to talk about 1) what we gain from turning our eyes away from worthless things and turning our eyes upon Jesus, 2) what averts our eyes away from Him, 3) how to avoid turning away and 4) what is the greater good when the Church keeps its eyes on Jesus.

What you gain by focusing on Jesus is seen in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” You get a Savior, a Shepherd, a Sustainer, a Sanctifier. Ps 119:37 preserve my life according to your word.” What you gain by focusing on Jesus is salvation.

Read the whole sermon here.

Perhaps the reason these sermons & poems/prayers re: the Transfiguration are so striking to me at the moment is that it is so easy when thinking about Lent to focus on the things we want to give up and change, the negative things in our lives… the sins we need to overcome.  But what the Holy Spirit seems to keep reminding me about this week — hitting me over the head with it really — is that what Lent really needs to be about, at least for me right now,  is fixing our eyes on Jesus, of growing in my desire to be with Him, of living in His light and letting His glory shine through me.

As Fr. Tim Fountain reminded us in his sermon yesterday, we can’t chase away the “shadows” of the world, the flesh and devil in our own strength.  No. Instead we need to seek Christ and let His light disperse those things in our lives.

And the excerpt I posted today from Preparing for Lent from the Creighton University “Praying Lent” site also reminds us that Lent is not about our own efforts and what we do or give up.  It’s about desiring Christ more and receiving more of His grace.  It’s His grace that changes us, not our own efforts.

Keeping the Transfiguration in sight on the eve of Lent is so helpful because it gives us such a clear and dazzling goal, the goal of being able to enjoy a clearer vision of the Lord’s glory and to have His glory reflected in our own lives.  That’s what I really want Lent to be about for me this year.  I want to daily turn more to Christ so that the veil, the things of this world that obstruct my vision of Christ and block His glory from being seen in me, will be taken away.

2 Cor 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.


(posted by KB)

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

February 23, 2009

We don’t routinely post commemorations of saints days here at Lent & Beyond, but the commemoration of Polycarp always seems to strike a chord, especially when it’s right in the lead up to Lent. In fact, this blog began 5 years ago this week. In 2004, Lent began on Feb. 24th and we began posting a few days prior to that. An entry about Polycarp was the 10th post back on our original blog!

Here are a few links to Anglican friends who are blogging about Polycarp today:

Sanctus has an account of Polycarp’s martyrdom

Confessing Reader and Ohio Anglican both have commemorative and informative posts on Polycarp as well.

I also just noted that Polycarp’s epistle is included in the Church Father’s Lenten Reading schedule later this week…

Here’s the Collect commemorating Polycarp:
O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Somehow, the reminder of Polycarp’s martyrdom on the cusp of Lent puts the idea of Lenten disciplines and abstinence in proper perspective. May the Lord continue to raise up many with his steadfastness and boldness to confess Christ.

Preparing for Lent: What can I do before Lent begins?

February 23, 2009

While working on my Lent resource post below, I read a post on the Praying Lent site from Creighton University that both encouraged and challenged me. I thought I’d share it with our readers.

What Can I Do Before Lent Begins?

Anything worth doing is worth preparing for.

Just imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we’ve experienced. Imagine that there will be many graces offered me this year. Let’s even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, deeper desires for love and service.

If we want it, we will choose it.

Lent will be this wonderful season of grace for us if we give ourselves to it. And, we will give ourselves to it to the degree we really want it badly. So, in these days before Lent, we need to prepare our hearts. We need to prepare by realizing how much we want to grow in freedom, how much we need to lighten our spirits and experience some real joy, and how much some parts of our lives really need changing.

So, preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing our sense of anticipation. If I imagine Lent as an “ordeal” or a time I dread in some way, then I’ve already pre-disposed myself to not get very much out of it. These days before Lent are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.

Our Focus: On what God wants to give us.

Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. There is really something coming that we can truly look forward to.

Read the rest of the entry here.

Lent 2009 at Lent & Beyond

February 23, 2009

Lent 2009 officially begins on Feb. 25th and continues through April 11.  This page will stay at the top of the blog throughout Lent to help readers easily find the many different varieties of Lenten resources and devotionals we have posted.

A Blessed Lent to all of our readers!

We should have a Lenten prayer and/or quote just about every day of Lent.   So check back daily!

All of our Lent entriesLent QuotesLent PrayersOur Top Ten Favorite Lent Resources .   & more…

Read the rest of this entry »

An Appeal for Recommended Anglican Lenten Resources

February 23, 2009

Update: I’m glad to report there is now a Lent category at Anglican Mainstream.  You’ll find excellent daily Lenten devotionals here that are focused on the daily Anglican lectionary and include Anglican heritage reflections.  Highly recommended.


Below I’ve posted my Top Ten list of favorite online Lenten Resources.   These are all great resources.  But given that Lent & Beyond is billed as an “Anglican Prayer Blog,”  there’s a pretty glaring shortfall in that list.  Very few of the resources linked below are specifically Anglican.

In the overall scheme of things, that’s not such a big deal.  Over the years, I’ve been blessed and encouraged by Lenten resources from Roman Catholic sources, Orthodox sources, Lutheran sources, Evangelical sources, etc.  When it comes to Lent, one does not need to be strictly confessional / denominational.

BUT, we here at Lent & Beyond would like to promote and publicize excellent ANGLICAN resources as well.  Please get out the word.  And please leave comments or send us e-mails if you have good resources you can recommend for orthodox Anglican / Episcopal readers.  These resources could be either online or offline – books, sermons, devotional guides, study guides, liturgical materials, etc. etc.   Our e-mail address:  AnglicanPrayer@gmail.com

We would be particularly thrilled to have links to or copies of parish devotional guides, family Lenten worship guides, etc., and materials that center around the Anglican lectionary and daily office readings (either 1928, 1979, RCL or some other recognized Anglican lectionary).

Please help us out!  Thanks, and a blessed Lent to all our readers.

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