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,
Lent Commitment Form:
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.