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Lent at Holy Apostles 2021-01-24

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

 On Ash Wednesday, we are asked to commit ourselves "to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word." (BCP 265) This commitment is done individually with the understanding that we are in community and is meant to be relational.  This Lent will be unlike any other as we approach our 1 year at home anniversary and remain on Zoom for worship and Lenten activities.    We hope to take advantage of all that technology has to offer us as we commit ourselves to turning our hearts back to God.

 Below we offer descriptions of the Lenten offerings and ask you to formally make a commitment to a Lenten practice.  Sometimes when we commit and make that commitment known to someone else it makes it easier for us to follow that commitment -  because we all know from lots of New Year's resolutions, it's not always so easy even when our heart is in it. Making new habits takes time.   So we've made it easy by creating a form!  we invite you to fill it out once you've figured out what spiritual practice you would like to take up this Lent.

 In peace with love,

The Mothers

 Lent Commitment Form:

https://forms.gle/L51TqiCyd58V9HJE8


Weekly Contemplative Prayer

7:30am Thursday mornings beginning February 18th through April 1st.

Every Thursday morning in Lent we will engage in the ancient prayer of Lectio Divina at 7:30am via Zoom.
In Christianity, Lectio Divina is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word that reveals its relevance in our lives today. We will pray seasonally relevant scripture. No previous experience necessary. Sessions will last approximately 30 minutes.


Daily Reading/Praying/Reflecting on the Lenten reflections

For the past few years, parishioners have engaged in reflecting on a piece of scripture and offering their thoughts in the form of a daily Lenten reflection that gets emailed out.  This year we will continue this practice and add an audio component so that you can listen to the scripture of the day, the reflection and end with the Lord's Prayer.  As a practice, this would mean to commit to reading or listening to the daily scripture and reflection and spending some time with it yourself. 


Weekly Outreach at Masbia

Sundays in Lent 3-6pm

Until the pandemic hit, Holy Apostles went to Masbia, the kosher soup kitchen on Coney Island Avenue twice a month. Masbia has been responding the hunger crisis made worse by the pandemic and loss of jobs by being open 24 hours a day. This Lent, we are organizing a group to go weekly on Sundays from 3pm-6pm to help put together food pantry food, distribute frozen meals or help in the kitchen, a time when they greatly need volunteers. If you wish to go a different time, please let us know. Strict Covid safety guidelines are followed.


Lenten Book selection

Our two recommended books are meant to get us to reflect on where God is moving in our lives, how what the author is writing about is relevant to us today, and give way to discussion or journaling.  This Lent we return to two books that we know and love: 

No Other Gods by Ana Levy-Lyons 

Those of all faiths, as well as people who are alienated from religion, will find in this radical reflection on the most widely known (and misunderstood) of biblical texts a resource for both personal dignity and political engagement. When lived, as revealed in this insightful book, the Commandments liberate us from immoral systems, guide us to live lightly on the earth, and create a foundation on which to build real community. 

Folks these days crave meaningful practices to help us live in light of our values – the kinds of religious resources and disciplines that the religious right has provided so usefully for conservatives. No Other Godsis a step in this direction. It reintroduces the Ten Commandments text as a political and spiritual prescription for our time. The Commandment against stealing extends to include any failure to pay fair trade price for consumer goods. The Commandment against killing includes deaths caused by environmental devastation. The prohibition on bearing false witness becomes urgent in the age of "truthiness" and alternative facts. 

Those who want a meaningful way to live out our spirituality and politics don’t have to invent a bunch of new practices. There is a perfectly good set of ten of them, all ready to go, that has existed for some 3000 years. 

Love is the Way by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

The way of love is essential for addressing the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the world today: poverty, racism, selfishness, deep ideological divisions, competing claims to speak for God. This book will lead readers to discover the gifts they need in order to live the way of love: deep reservoirs of hope and resilience, simple wisdom, the discipline of nonviolence, and unshakable regard for human dignity.


Devotional Art Class: Stations of the Cross Icon with Fr. Regan O'Callaghan

5 Sundays at 4pm via Zoom starting February 21. Cost $50 for the 5 sessions to cover supplies.

Space is limited.

Art has long been a spiritual practice, especially the ancient practice of Icon writing. Join Regan O'Callahan for 5 Sundays in Lent where you will create your own mixed media Station of the Cross with painting combined with collage. Supplies will be provided and distributed prior to February 21st.

Regan O’Callaghan is an artist/priest presently living in France but originally from New Zealand. Previously he lived in the United Kingdom where he studied art and religious studies including the technique of icon writing (painting).   In 2001 Regan was ordained into the Church of England.  He combines his religious ministry with art leading many art projects and workshops as well as painting a number of commissions including icons for Saint Paul’s Cathedral London and Sherborne Abbey, Dorset.  He believes in a ministry of encouragement where art is the facilitator. Today Regan’s art practice has built on the technique of icon writing combining contemporary themes with traditional techniques.   He is also inspired by the natural environment and humankind's relationship/connection with their surroundings.


Giving Up something

Traditionally, we hear of folks, or maybe we have, given up chocolate or meat or alcohol for Lent. This practice aims to go deeper to reflect on what is getting in your way to being closer to God - is it gossip? envy? anger? jealousy? etc...This practice asks you to spend some time before Lent begins to figure out what might be getting in the way of a closer relationship with God and committing to "giving it up" for these 40 days.


A little help from a friend, a Lenten Friend

We’ve heard it said before that we, as Christians, are Easter people, living in a Good Friday world. This statement at this particular time in history resonates with me more deeply than ever. We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world. We are people of hope; we look for resurrected life around us, we listen for it, we demand it, we vote for it, we create it. And it is not easy, for as the saying goes, we live in a Good Friday world—an unjust world, where innocent are punished, the poor are shamed, the humble, teased, a world where God is murdered, and often. This daily struggle to be people of Easter, people of hope who are convinced that love always wins, requires some dedicated effort.  
 
Like any athlete who trains to perform their feat, like any artist who wakes early to create, in order to be Easter people, we must practice. This is what Lent is all about. Lent is a time to stop, to clear our noisy lives, and focus in on our call—our call to seek Justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. 
 
We hold Lent for 40 days. Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, preparing for his ministry and being tested by the devil. During Lent, we join Jesus in the wildness. By simplifying our lives, we open ourselves to the inner wildness we spend so much time avoiding. Be it grief, or longing, shame, or disappointment. By clearing out space in our lives we open ourselves to the unknown. This is a time of mystery—we commit to spiritual practices seeking to see what we do not see and hear what we do not hear, so that we may encounter buried truths about ourselves, about life, about God. And we truly have no idea what we may find.  
 
Which is why Lent can be intimidating! But take heart; we are not alone. We travel through the wilderness of Lent with the One who knows the wilderness well, the One who endured it, the One who created it. But this year at Holy Apostles, we also have an opportunity to travel through Lent with a friend. This year, if you would like, we will pair you up with a “Lenten Friend,” someone from Holy Apostles community, to go through Lent together.   So once you have selected your practice and filled out the form, the last question will be, do you want a Lenten Friend who will travel these 40 days with you. If you say yes, we will pair you up with someone else who has also signed up for your same practice and you will be hearing from Missy Trull, chaplain and HA parishioner who will guide you through what it means to travel this Lent with a friend.



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Advent Daily Reflection 2020-12-24

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Luke 2.8-20

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The time has come for the good news! For most of us, this passage is etched into our cultural memory as THE Christmas story. The angels, the shepherds and the child “wrapped in bands of cloth” or, more memorably, “swaddling clothes” and lying in a manger. When I think about it, the story is a bit strange. Why does the angel choose to appear to a few shepherds, who had to live outside to watch the sheep? Why only to them? Of course, I know part of the answer. Everything about the birth of Jesus is humble and earthy, including the shepherds. And yet the announcement is over the top--angels, shining light, and a “multitude of the heavenly host” praising God. And then there is Mary, taking it all in, but silently pondering what she has heard in her heart.

I wonder, how do I hear the good news of Christ coming into the world? No, I don’t get angelic choirs, darn it! I’ve always been on the quiet side, so perhaps I’m a bit like Mary. I take a lot in—I’ve learned to be a good listener (most of the time!)-- and try to make sense of it all. To ponder, to think deeply—that’s something to aspire to. Mary, quiet, humble and yet she said “yes” to God!

I hear and I see the good news: a whispered confidence, a shining face, comforts exchanged in times of trouble. I hear and I see…may I have the courage to say yes!



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Advent Daily Reflection 2020-12-23

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Matthew 4.14-16

So that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

This morning, right before sitting down to consider this passage from Matthew, I was reading the paper. My eye seemed to wander to every article that was dismaying and sad, and some I read aloud to my husband James. After about the third upsetting article, James got up and said “Okay, enough!” Indeed.
 
I find that distressing news can draw me in. If I am feeling generous to myself I might say that I feel the need to read reports of things, such as human rights violations, the plight of migrants, the personal stories about Covid, not just to stay informed as a good citizen, but as a witness and in solidarity with all the citizens of the world. This can help me clarify my own values about how I want to live and contribute to our world, and can draw me closer to living the message of Jesus. 
 
But if I am to be honest, there are other less righteous reasons I can be attracted to sad news about the world. Sometimes, if I am in a period of struggle, it can feel validating to read that others struggle. If I am feeling particularly negative, it can reflect back to me that the world is a dark place. If I am angry, it can convey to me that there are reasons to stay in anger. Sad news can feed our narcissism, that need to see our own inner-state reflected in the world around us. When we are in this place there is no room for “light,” only our own need for validation. That place is where I started out this morning.
 
Upon reflection this passage reminds me that, as difficult as it may be to do so, I need to embrace the light of God, even when the shadow of death seems ever present. Using sad news for my own emotional needs, while human, is stagnant and does not bring about any positive change. The example of Jesus, in this passage beginning his Galilean ministry, is one of action to address the suffering of people. Jesus never diminishes the suffering of others or even his own suffering, and for me that makes his message of the light all the more powerful. I need to continually work on allowing God’s light to guide me out of the dark, and lead me to a meaningful path closer to God.



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Posted by Heather Kelly

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