Two good Anglican articles / reflections on Lent

February 20, 2015

In the focus on trying to get an updated compilation of links to Lent devotional sites and resources, I never got a chance to excerpt or link two reflections by Anglican pastors and bloggers which I found helpful.  Both articles speak to the tension between the Reformed and Catholic heritage within Anglicanism in regard to the observance of Lent.

From Andrew Symes at Anglican Mainstream:  Lent: Living the Gospel

I’m taking a risk in talking about Ash Wednesday and Lent. Some of my friends will regard me as deeply suspect. The next thing they know I might be caught lighting a candle, wearing a flash of purple over my surplice or, heaven forbid, putting ash on someone’s forehead.

I grew up in a low church environment deeply suspicious of symbols, and anything which might suggest that the symbol itself is worshipped or taken as an end in itself. But I’ve also seen the other side: high churches in other parts of the world crammed on Ash Wednesday, full of superstitious people desperate to get the mark of ash but with no understanding of repentance or intention of doing it even if they did.

Lent and its trappings can be misunderstood, but the true message of Lent is a really good corrective to the many wrong understandings of the Gospel that have been common over the years. The idea, first, of somehow atoning for my own sins by my penance, shown in the medieval excesses of self flagellation and crawling over sharp cobblestones but with its echoes in the contemporary examples of self denial (eg giving up chocolate) which have nothing to do with God or Christ. But as a reaction, the much more common idea today that talk of sin, repentance and self mortification is seen as at best quaint and at worst Pharisaism, judgmentalism and a dangerous purveyor of low self-esteem.

Full entry

From Fr. Lee Nelson at the Anglican Pastor blog:  Anglican Ash Wednesday: Catholic or Reformed?  This is a short article tracing a bit of the development of the Ash Wednesday liturgy from Cranmer in 1548 to the present day.

I want to take you back with me to the year 1548. It is the year before the very first Book of Common Prayer, and it is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. For many centuries you and your family have come into the church the day before to have your confession heard, and on this day, you have come to receive ashes on the forehead, but on this day no such ashes would be given.

In fact that year, there were no candles on Candlemass, no palms on Palm Sunday, no veneration of the Cross on Good Friday. As the historian Eamon Duffy recounts, “the entire edifice of Catholic culture and liturgy was being dismantled in England.” Now, we must say in fairness to the reformers, and here specifically Cranmer, that they had their reasons. They found no such customs in the ancient Church. In fact, what they found was hard, taxing penance – punishment inflicted on sinners by an authoritative Church.

Full entry

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43 Poems for Lent – a complete index of Patrick Comerford’s 2012 blog series

February 20, 2015

We continue to get many dozens of visitors at L&B who are looking for Lent poems.  Last year I posted a compilation of some Lent poems, a compilation of Holy Week poemsGood Friday poems, and Easter poems.  All four compilations are somewhat rough, and I need to update them all, since I now have additional poems by Malcolm Guite, Teresa Roberts Johnson and others to add.

As a small beginning to continue to upgrade our liturgical-year-themed poetry resources here at L&B, I thought it would be helpful if I compiled a complete index of the Rev. Patrick Comerford’s Lent 2012 series of daily Lenten poems, one of the best-ever Lenten blog series, in my opinion! It was that series that really stirred up a fresh interest for me in liturgically-themed poetry.

(Patrick Comerford is a priest in the Church of Ireland (Anglican), Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Dublin (Trinity College Dublin) and a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.)

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Poems for Lent (1): ‘Ash Wednesday’, TS Eliot

Poems for Lent (2): ‘Lent,’ George Herbert

Poems for Lent (3): ‘Indifference,’ by GA Studdert Kennedy

Poems for Lent (4): ‘Lenten Thoughts of a High Anglican,’ by John Betjeman

Poems for Lent (5): ‘Marked by Ashes,’ by Walter Brueggemann

Poems for Lent (6): ‘The Retreat,’ by Henry Vaughan

Poems for Lent (7): ‘Lent’ by Christina Rossetti

Poems for Lent (8): ‘Amen,’ by Leonard Cohen

Poems for Lent (9): ‘Sunday Morning, King’s Cambridge,’ by John Betjeman

Poems for Lent (10): ‘The Absence,’ by RS Thomas

Poems for Lent (11): ‘Untitled (The Fallen Angels left all there),’ by Patrick Kavanagh

Poems for Lent (12): ‘Forest Song,’ by Sir Shane Leslie

Poems for Lent (13): ‘Evensong,’ by CS Lewis

Poems for Lent (14): ‘In the Street,’ by Winifred M Letts

Poems for Lent (15): ‘Desert Places,’ by Robert Frost

Poems for Lent (16): ‘Lenten Communion,’ by Katharine Tynan

Poem for Lent (17): ‘Autobiography,’ by Louis MacNeice

Poems for Lent (18): ‘Christians and Pagans,’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Poems for Lent (19): ‘Confession’ (‘O What a cunning guest’), by George Herbert

Poems for Lent (20): ‘Christ’s Bloody Sweat’ by Robert Southwell

Poems for Lent (21): ‘Holy Cross,’ by Sir Shane Leslie

Poems for Lent (22): ‘St Patrick’s Day with Neil,’ by Thomas McCarthy

Poem for Lent (23): ‘Sunday Morning,’ by Louis MacNeice

Poems for Lent (24): ‘Man of the House,’ by Katherine Tynan

Poems for Lent (25): ‘The Snowdrop Monument (in Lichfield Cathedral)’ by Jean Ingelow

Poems for Lent (26): ‘Mid-Lent,’ by Christina Rossetti

Poems for Lent (27): ‘I saw the Sun at Midnight,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poems for Lent (28): ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Poems for Lent (29): ‘Here It Is,’ by Leonard Cohen

Poems for Lent (30): ‘Fifth Sunday In Lent’ by John Keble

Poems for Lent (31): ‘Annunciation,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (32): ‘What the Thunder said,’ from ‘The Waste Land’ by TS Eliot

Poems for Lent (33): ‘Affliction’ by George Herbert

Poems for Lent (34): ‘Julian at the Mysteries’ by CP Cavafy

Poems for Lent (35): ‘It is a thing most wonderful,’ by William Walsham How

Poems for Lent (36): ‘Batter my heart, three person’d God’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (37): ‘The Donkey,’ by GK Chesterton

Poems for Lent (38): ‘Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa,’ by Oscar Wilde

Poems for Lent (39): ‘All in an April Evening,’ by Katharine Tynan

Poems for Lent (40): ‘I see His Blood Upon the Rose,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poems for Lent (41): ‘The Last Supper,’ by Ranier Maria Rilke

Poems for Lent (42): ‘Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (43): ‘Sepulchre,’ by George Herbert

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Note: We had previously compiled a list of 7 Easter poems posted by Patrick Comerford in 2012.

You’ll find all our Lent poem posts and resources here.  (Right now it’s a small collection, but I expect it to grow this Lent!).  I expect to soon break up the “Poems, Hymns and Songs” category into two or three separate categories to separate poetry from music.


Lent prayer theme: Global intercession for the persecuted, for missionaries, unreached peoples… etc.

February 20, 2015

One of the themes in material we plan to post and Tweet here during Lent will be prayer for the persecuted church, missionaries, and for unreached peoples and nations.  We will also post resources for  “spiritual warfare” – praying for God to thwart religious violence and evil.   For those of you interested in such posts, you might want to bookmark our Global Intercession category.

Here are a few of our recent entries from that category:


Praying for Egypt and the families of the 21 Coptic Christian martyrs

February 20, 2015

Although I’ve tweeted a lot of resources and prayers related to the martyrdom by ISIS of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya last week, I never got a chance to post anything here at the blog.  That seems a huge oversight, and I would like to urge continued prayer today in response to the killings.  Prayer for Egypt, and prayer for the families of those martyred for their faith.

Here are some important links & resources, as well as some of the tweets I’ve seen in recent days that included good prayers:

Archbishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt has issued a Statement and a call to prayer for Egypt:

The Anglican Church in Egypt and the world expresses its deep condolences to the families of these men, and also to his Holiness Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Please join me in praying for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East. Please pray the international community will act in wisdom, correctly and efficiently, and support Egypt in its war on terror. Please pray the churches of Egypt will comfort their sons and daughters, encouraging them to resist fear and hatred. And please pray for the perpetrators of this terrible crime, that God would be merciful to them and change their hearts.

Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Such cheer may seem impossible, but it is God’s promise. Please pray for us, that we may live lives worthy of his name, and hold to the testimony exhibited by the brave Egyptians in Libya.

Dr. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America also issued a Call to Prayer for Egypt and the families of the martyrs, which excerpted parts of Archbishop Mouneer’s statement.

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Ramez Attallah, head of the Bible Society of Egypt wrote an update on the situation in Egypt, including a number of specific prayer requests:

As many of you know, these men were simple, Egyptian laborers who had gone to Libya to make a living. They were captured and executed by ISIS for being – as the video caption charges – “People of the Cross”. Egyptians have been shocked by this news and it is the most talked about event in our country at this time.

The purpose of the video was to foment sectarian strife in Egypt between Christians and Muslims. Those Islamic extremists clearly intended to provoke the 10 million Christians in Egypt to rise up violently against their Muslim neighbors.

But the loving and caring response of Muslims all over the nation softened the blow which many Christians felt. Up till now the Christians of Egypt have responded with restraint, sorrowfully calling out to God.

The President and dozens of political leaders personally gave their condolences to the Coptic Pope. The Prime Minister travelled to the small village where most of these men come from, sitting on the floor with their poor relatives to express his concern. All this sends a clear message that Christians are considered an integral part of the fabric of Egyptian society.

Prayer Requests
1. Pray for comfort for the families of the victims who are in a terrible emotional state.
2. Pray for the effective mass distribution of a Scripture tract we have just produced (above left), that God’s Word will comfort and challenge the many who will receive it.
3. As I write, there is news of more Egyptians being kidnapped in Libya. Lord have mercy!

Please pray for Egypt as we pass through this painful period.

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Here is a page where you can find the names of the 21 martyred Egyptian Christians so you can keep their families in prayer.

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Pastor Scotty Smith, one of my favorite prayer bloggers, posted a powerful prayer in response to the martyrdoms at his Gospel Coalition blog:

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them. Rev. 6:9-11(NLT)

Dear heavenly Father, images of our orange-clad Egyptian brothers, paraded along the seashore before their martyrdom, brought many emotions to play in my heart. I felt a moment of fear, then anger and disgust, and then a tad of hatred for enemies of the cross and a longing for vengeance. I felt all of these things, until I entered the sanctuary of your Word.

     Father, though I don’t fully understand, I rest in the assurance that you are as sovereign over the number of your children to be martyred, as you are in control of sunrise and sunset, seedtime and harvest, the day Jesus entered our world and the timing of his return. You give and you take away, blessed be the name of our Lord.

     The Lamb who was broken for our sins, is alone worthy to break the seals of your unfolding story of redemption and restoration. There’s no consternation or vexation in heaven, just exaltation of the God who does all things well—in your time and in your way. “Stuff” doesn’t just happen; sovereignty is always happening. We believe; help us when we feel weak, Father.

     When will Jesus return, and when will you avenge the glory of your name and eradicate all evil? You delay because you are a merciful and grace-full God. Through Jesus, you have secured a family as numerous as stars, sand, and dust, from all nations and people groups. Perhaps among those who took the lives of our Egyptian brothers is another like Saul of Tarsus, whom you call and appoint another Apostle of Grace (Acts 7:54-59).

     So we pray for grieving families in Egypt, Father, and we join the cry of martyrs in heaven, “How long, O Lord?” Grant us grace and courage, to share the gospel, serve our neighbors, and love our enemies, until this day becomes that Day. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ beautiful and triumphant name. 

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NY Times bestselling author and popular (excellent!) Christian blogger Ann Voskamp has written two amazing blog entries in response to the martyrdoms, challenging us all to be “people of the cross.”  I commend them both HIGHLY.

The Wake-Up Call that is ISIS: Who in the Church is Answering?

The Call for the Next 40 Days: To the Nations & People of The Cross

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Finally, a few tweets I’ve found helpful in recent days:


Lent thoughts from Anne Kennedy: Rest in the completed work of Christ

February 20, 2015

The closing paragraph of the Rev. Anne Kennedy’s Ash Wednesday reflection at her blog Preventing Grace really struck a chord with me:

I have finally, after much consideration, fixed on a discipline for myself for Lent. It came towards the end of Matt’s sermon this morning. He instructed us, bleary eyed as we were at 7 in the morning, to “Rest on the finished work of Christ.” And I felt quite undone by the andmonishment. None of my works are ever completed, even when I only do them one at time. None of my rest is really rest. But Jesus has finished the work of Salvation. His work is perfect and complete. And his work is for me. I don’t have to save myself. I can’t even when I give it the good college try. I fail in all my doings. I have nothing and am nothing. So I will sit down, on his work, and stop trying. There is no holiness for me, this Lent, that doesn’t come from Jesus himself and what he has already done and is continuing to do. So I will sit in the place of his mercy, and be still. And will fail at being still. And all the time, he will go on in his perfect completeness.

Here’s the link to the full blog entry

These words are such a needed reminder for those of us tempted to turn Lent into an attempt to perform great spiritual disciplines in our own strength.


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