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

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.)


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


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.

Archbishop Foley Beach’s Lent Message – Sins of Neglect

February 19, 2015

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach has a very good and challenging Lent message, focused on the theme of sins of neglect, sins of omission.  As you read it, prayerfully take some time for self-examination.  Here’s a key excerpt:

This year as you prayerfully examine your own life during Lent, I want to encourage you to look for your sins of neglect.  What are your sins of omission?  “What is God asking me to do which I am refusing to do?”

Am I neglecting my time alone with God?
Am I neglecting feeding the poor?
Am I neglecting speaking out against evil?
Am I neglecting teaching my children about my faith in Jesus?
Am I neglecting taking care of my body?
Am I neglecting praying for and loving my enemies?
Am I neglecting returning to the Lord His portion of my earnings?
Am I neglecting caring for those in pain around me?
Am I neglecting time with my spouse?

The list could go on and on. You get the point: What are my sins of neglect of which I need to repent?

In trying to deal with my sins of neglect, I have noticed two issues which seem to arise.  Firstly, to repent of these sins costs me time.  They usually take time to accomplish, which means that if I am going to follow God’s leading and repent, then I am going to have to stop doing something that I am currently doing in order to make time for it.  To minister to the needy means I have to give up time doing something else.  To spend more time studying the Scriptures means I am going to have to give up time doing something else.

Secondly, I have noticed that, more often than not, I am blinded to my sins of neglect.  It takes someone else, a sermon, the Scriptures, a book, or a friend to point them out to me.  I am afraid this is a pattern for most of us. We don’t think we have an issue, and then the Holy Spirit convicts us and brings it to our attention.  Because they are usually blind spots, this means we are used to living with them; they are comfortable in our lives.  To repent will make us uneasy and it is often difficult!  We have to be intentional, and oftentimes, we need someone to hold us accountable.

Here’s the full entry

Bishop Julian Dobbs – Lent Bible Study Video series on Vimeo

February 19, 2015

Thanks to a link posted by Pat Dague at Incline Your Heart, I just discovered that Bishop Julian Dobbs of the ACNA is posting a Lenten Bible Study Series on Vimeo:  “What Happens After We Die”

Here’s how the Rev. Matt Kennedy at Church of the Good Shepherd described the series:

Bishop Dobbs has begun a Lenten video teaching series entitled: “What Happens After We Die”. In it he will discuss death, Hell, Heaven, and the Resurrection. The first video deals with the biblical concept of “Hades”. The series is expositional, grounded in the Scriptures, so you’ll need your Bible as you watch and listen.

Here’s the link to Bishop Dobbs’ Vimeo page so you can watch all the episodes.

Anglican Mainstream’s Lent Meditations for 2015

February 19, 2015

Yesterday I did not know for sure whether Anglican Mainstream would be posting daily Lent reflections this year.

The answer is YES they are…

Here’s the link

Here’s an excerpt from today’s entry for Feb. 19:

Lent is an opportunity to consider the truth of the Gospel as rooted in the Cross of Christ, (which is not necessarily a popular message). The idea that we are called to give up ourselves, our own will and power, is a message that goes against the Gospel of the culture. Lent is a season to learn through the spiritual disciplines that to die to self and the world, and to live our life in the fullness of God is a witness to a broken and needy world.

PRAYER OF THE DAY: Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, You have suffered death on the Cross for our sins. Oh, Holy Cross of Jesus, be my true light! Oh, Holy Cross, fill my soul with good thoughts.
Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all things that are evil. Oh, Holy Cross, ward off from me all dangers and deaths and give me life everlasting! Oh, Crucified Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me now and forever.

ANCIENT WISDOM/PRESENT GRACE:  “Since we are bound to abhor any deception which hides the truth from our sight, we must of necessity repudiate any direct relationship with the things of this world–and that for the sake of Christ. Wherever a group, be it large or small, prevents us from standing alone before Christ, wherever such a group raises a claim of immediacy it must be hated for the sake of Christ. For every immediacy, whether we realize it or not, means hatred of Christ, and this is especially true where such relationships claim the sanctions of Christian principles.”– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from “The Cost of Discipleship.

A Lenten Focus on Grace-Filled Obedience – Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Exhortation

February 19, 2015

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina is such a gift to the Church!  So often pastoral letters he has written, or talks he has given have encouraged and challenged me deeply.

So it is this morning as I read Bishop Mark Lawrence’s pastoral letter for Lent 2015.   In his letter he asks this question:

If grace-filled obe­di­ence not self-imposed depri­va­tion is the path­way to God’s bless­ing shouldn’t one’s Lenten dis­ci­pline focus on this?

For me that really crystallized a way of defining the Lenten disciplines I have chosen.  More about obedience than deprivation.  But I didn’t have an easy way or phrase in my mind to describe it.  Now I do.  Grace-filled obedience.  Amen.

Here’s part of the larger context of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s letter

This Ash Wednes­day morn­ing … these words from Pro­fes­sor J. Alec Motyer’s com­men­tary on the prophecy of Isa­iah .. leapt off the page and brought my rest­less mind to a sud­den pause.

“The Lord is more con­cerned with the enjoy­ment of his bless­ings through obe­di­ence to His com­mands than in self-imposed deprivations.”

These words came as if they were a prophetic word to my soul as I was prayer­fully con­sid­er­ing what dis­ci­plines to embrace this Lent. It wasn’t lost on me that Pro­fes­sor Motyer’s words were com­men­tary on Isa­iah 58 where the prophet spoke of the fast God chooses for his peo­ple: break­ing the bonds of oppres­sion, shar­ing bread with the hun­gry, car­ing for the home­less, cloth­ing the naked, and nur­tur­ing one’s own fam­ily. How might this apply for us here in South Car­olina? For our broth­ers and sis­ters in Christ in Egypt, Nige­ria, Kenya, Sudan and else­where around the world?

This was not the only word that resounded on this Ash Wednes­day morn­ing on this 2015th year of our Lord. There were oth­ers as well. Another was this open­ing para­graph from a homily by St. John Chrysos­tom expound­ing First Corinthi­ans 1:1–3: ‘See how imme­di­ately, from the very begin­ning, he [Paul] casts down their pride, and dashes to the ground all their fond imag­i­na­tion, in that he speaks of him­self as “called.” For what I have learnt, saith he, I dis­cov­ered not myself, nor acquired by my own wis­dom, but while I was per­se­cut­ing and lay­ing waste the Church I was called. Now here of Him that cal­leth is every­thing; of him that is called, noth­ing (so to speak,) but only to obey.’

Then there was this word, spo­ken orig­i­nally to John Ort­berg by Dal­las Willard, and quoted in his book Soul Keep­ing: “Hurry is the great enemy of spir­i­tual life in our day. You must ruth­lessly elim­i­nate hurry from your life.”

What do all these words read this day and res­onat­ing in my ears have to do with my obser­vance of holy Lent? This I believe:

If grace-filled obe­di­ence not self-imposed depri­va­tion is the path­way to God’s bless­ing shouldn’t one’s Lenten dis­ci­pline focus on this?

If God’s call, not the dri­ven life, is for each of us our apos­tolic mis­sion shouldn’t that be the place out of which we live our lives and do our work and ministry?

If we are dust and to dust we shall return (as the words of the Ash Wednes­day liturgy reminds us) why am I, and so many of us, in such a hurry?

I encourage you to read and reflect on Bishop Lawrence’s entire letter.


A short Lent quote & prayer from today’s TSM devotional

February 18, 2015

Today’s first entry in the Lent 2015 devotional series by Trinity School for Ministry is very solid – a simple, but important reminder on the danger of trusting in our own efforts to please God through our penitence, fasting, or other spiritual disciplines. Here’s a quote I found very helpful, as well as the closing prayer

Repentance is the foundation of our joy. Our penitence is not for God’s sake. He doesn’t need it; we do. We do it to be reminded who we really are: sinners, undeserving of God’s mercy, yet – mysteriously and wonderfully – the recipients of it! 

Let us pray that God would give us a good and fruitful Lent, making known to us, in deeper and richer ways, the inexhaustible mystery of his mercy.

Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle chatter. Rather grant to me, your servant, the Spirit of integrity, humility, patience, and love. Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own sins and not judge my brothers and sisters; for you are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen. (St. Ephrem of Edessa)

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