2021 Lenten Guide

Lent is a season of transformation and self-examination, when we ask God for forgiveness and repentance while creating space to talk about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. These forty days lead us into closer unity with God. Read more below about how St. John’s will be observing the season and how you can prepare for Holy Week.

YOUR ROLE DURING LENT:

During Lent, we come together to participate in communal prayer and worship and walk through the season as a church community. Begin by worshipping on Ash Wednesday, then make a personal commitment to one or more of the spiritual practices listed below.

“SENSING” GOD’S PRESENCE:

During Lenten worship at St. John’s, we experience the beautiful liturgy of the New Zealand Prayer Book, see the vibrant Lenten vestments, smell incense during select services and touch handmade wooden chalices and patens. We also hear the sounds of South African, Taizé, Spanish, and other world music, featured across the global Anglican Communion.

THE HOLY WEEK JOURNEY:

The forty days of Lent are used to prepare adults for Holy Week. From Palm Sunday, to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, each Holy Week service allows us to journey with Jesus through the events leading to his death on the cross. Weekday services have a devotional characteristic and are special days for self-denial, intentional worship, and attending to needs of others.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES FOR LENT:

Spiritual practices are part of Christian life year-round, but they enhance our Lenten spiritual journey. The key is ensuring the practices do not become rote activities. Here are some ways you can work on self-examination and repentance, individually or with your St. John’s family:

This year, Episcopal Relief and Development has made the annual Lenten Meditation Guide available online. That makes it easy to access the daily devotionals. Establish a set time during Lent to read and then sit in silence (or prayer).


Begin and/or end the day with Morning or Evening Prayer, found in the Book of Common Prayer. For easier access at home, at work, or during your commute use the online version (either written or audio format) of The Daily Office.


Virtually attend our Sung Compline service. It premieres at 8:00 p.m. Sundays, but watch any night of the week before bedtime! This ancient monastic service is recorded in the candlelit church, led by clergy and the Compline Choir.


Fasting is a spiritual discipline that Jesus himself practiced. Hunger pains can be a helpful way to remember to pray for others and enter into self-reflection. If you have health concerns, please consult your doctor before beginning a fast.


Self-denial can be an alternative to fasting. Giving up favorite foods, drinks, or bad habits forces you to be mindful of the hunger of others each time you crave that item or revert to a certain behavior – a simple act that can help us grow toward Christ.


You’ve given up chocolate or sodas or coffee for Lent, but how does that sacrifice bring you closer to God? Donate the money you would have spent to a cause, such as St. John’s effort to relieve the medical debt of Floridians in our most financially vulnerable communities. Every dollar donated forgives approximately $100 of medical debt.


The Stations of the Cross are a devotion that allows us to follow in the steps of Jesus from his condemnation by Pilate, through the streets of Jerusalem to Calvary, to the Cross, and the tomb. Reflect while walking the stations in the chapel during Sunday’s Communion in the Garden time for a meaningful Lenten practice.


Consult with Fr. Dave, Mtr. Abi, or Fr. Wallace about a personal confession (or Reconciliation of a Penitent). The Episcopal Church has revitalized this practice as a way for Christians to seek Christ’s healing power through guided self-reflection, admission of sins, and reconciliation with God through forgiveness.


Attend our virtual Choral Evensong (March 14), one of the oldest services in the Anglican tradition. This special service is presented by St. John’s and the Church of the Nativity (Huntsville, AL). It will feature an extended organ prelude, as well as choral music of Howells, Byrd, Wesley, and Tallis.


Encounter God in scripture using Lectio Divina, a Latin phrase that means divine or sacred reading. This unique approach to scripture, which features the ancient practice of slower and more reflective reading of the Scriptures, allows God to address us directly according to what He knows we need.


St. John’s offers enrichment for all ages. Christian education classes and Bible studies are held all year long, as are classes for Children (Saturday mornings) and Youth (Sunday evenings). There are several classes being offered specifically during Lent. See the list below and our calendar for more detail.


SPECIAL LENTEN CLASSES:

Praying the Gospel of St. John

Tuesdays at 7:30 PM; February 9 – April 6

St. John’s is joining the Brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) this Lent in an eight-week retreat that will provide an overview of the Gospel of John and introduce participants to its major themes.


Five Speeches that Changed America

Wednesdays at 7:30 PM; February 24 – March 24

A look at some of the most powerful, timeless speeches in American history (including speeches from MLK, Jr., Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama) with discussion about how these speeches address the challenges of the present day while pulling upon themes in the Christian tradition.


Practicing the Way: Sabbath as Resistance

Fridays at 12 PM; February 19 – April 2

Join Mother Abi in a Lenten book study. We will be reading and discussing Walter Bruggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance, a study of the history, practice, and statement making of taking Sabbath.


Growing in Grace: A Spiritual Renewal Course

Sundays at 11 AM; January 24 – April 11

God is leading St. John’s to new life and spiritual renewal with a special parish-wide edition of Growing in Grace, a course for adults on the basics of the Christian faith. Topics and presenters vary.

Sign Up for E-Chimes