Ash Wednesday – March 1 – begins the season of Lent in the church.
(What’s Lent, you may ask? http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/calendar-church-year
What’s Ash Wednesday? http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/ash-wednesday )
The Book of Common Prayer invites us to be “fervent in prayer and in works of mercy” during the Lenten season. This Lent, the Epiphany community will offer at least one opportunity for prayer and reflection in community each day of the week in keeping with our Anglican tradition. Some of us already practice this as individuals. For others of us, re-committing to a rhythm of prayer that structures our day –rather than a to-do list or job or school demands– is an excellent discipline for Lent. Using all the gifts of ministry that God has given us – our sacred spaces here in Timonium and Baltimore County, our virtual sacred spaces on this website, blog, social media – we will offer sacred time together to support our practice of a Holy Lent.
Our prayer life draws us ever closer to love of neighbor, made explicit and manifest in works of mercy. The church has traditionally identified works of mercy as those taught by Jesus in Matthew 25:34-40: feeding the hungry and thirsty, sheltering the homeless and most vulnerable, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison and welcoming the stranger. Each Sunday we will collect food for the Epiphany Free Food Store, bringing the collection to the altar for a blessing. Each Sunday we will offer other opportunities to engage in works of mercy. The first Sunday in Lent – March 5 – we will lift up our common humanity in the work of Episcopal Relief and Development (www.episcopalrelief.org) and offer a workshop at 11:20 on Invitation and Welcome. March 12 will focus on caring for children with Camp-focused activities or kids and youth and at 11:20 a workshop on poverty and homelessness in Baltimore County Schools with a guest speaker. March 19 at 11:20 will feature Neighbor-to-Neighbor. March 26 at 9 am will be another workshop on Invitation and Welcome while at 11:20 we will work in Epiphany’s Community Garden. April 2 at 11:20 we will do a hike and trail clean-up at Loch Raven reservoir. All are welcome to any one or all of these programs.
Whatever personal prayer or discipline we take on for ourselves in Lent is not complete without service to others and work for justice. Our prayer life necessarily draws us closer to love of neighbor. This Lent we can all ask God to deepen the connection between our prayer life and works of mercy and acts of justice in the world.
What do you think? How do you understand the relationship between your prayer life and your acts of love and justice in the world?