Well, as we enter the season of Lent in February, we will have been dealing with COVID-19 for a year. Early in 2020, we begin to hear snippets of information about the coronavirus. We heard where travel restrictions were being put into place. I think it was the general impression that this virus could be contained and even perhaps defeated before it got much farther than China. In truth, as I prepared for Lent last year, I gave little thought to the virus. I knew it existed, but it was a long way from Charleston.
We began our observance of Lent on Ash Wednesday and started our Wednesday evening services. I distinctly remember being on the schedule to preach at a Wednesday noon ecumenical Lenten service when our Vestry, and all the downtown churches, made the decision to cancel public worship services as a safety precaution for our church members. With that decision, public in-person worship came to a screeching halt. When we made the decision to cancel public worship, I originally thought the decision would last until the end of March, and then by April we would be back to worship. Then I thought Memorial Day weekend, until finally, we resumed public worship in September. As we all know, public worship looks different since this time last year. Social distancing and face masks are required. We receive the sacrament on the way out of the sanctuary. We are not singing hymns. In fact, everything looks different as we confront and work to conquer the coronavirus.
Now, we are preparing to enter the Lenten season for 2021. Ash Wednesday is upon us and with it comes the forty days of our Lenten discipline. What will Lent look like for us this year? In the remaining space of this article, I’d like to share with you how I envision us observing the season of Lent. Let’s start with Ash Wednesday.
On Ash Wednesday (February 17) I will offer two opportunities to receive the Imposition of Ashes. The first opportunity will take place in our church parking lot from 8:15AM till 8:45AM. Anyone desiring the Imposition of Ashes will simply need to drive through our parking lot to begin their observance of Lent with a remembrance of their mortality and sinful nature as I make the sign of the cross on your forehead with ashes. In the event of rain, I will be on the portico of our church for this event that opens the Lenten season for us.
The second opportunity to receive Imposition of Ashes will occur at our Ash Wednesday Worship service that night beginning at 7:00PM. The service will look a bit different from what we would normally do at worship on Ash Wednesday, but this service will offer the sacrament of Holy Communion as well as the Imposition of Ashes.
For our mid-week Lenten services, we will offer a video service that will be available for viewing on Wednesday evening, beginning at 7:00PM. This mid-week service will be simple in its use of liturgy but will include a sermon and a musical anthem. I believe our lives can be enriched and we can observe the season of Lent reverently and meaningfully through these services. I hope you will go to our internet sites to worship with us on Wednesdays.
Additionally, each Monday morning, I will post a brief Lenten devotion that will include a scripture and reflection. These should be posted on our internet sites by noon on the Mondays in Lent. During Holy Week, there will be a daily devotion posted on our internet sites. I hope you will walk with me through Lent this year and allow these devotions to focus your thoughts on the gift that Jesus Christ is to us, and the meaning of his sacrifice on the cross for us.
Lent is almost upon us and while it will be different, it will still be a time for us to worship, reflect, and focus our lives so that we can arrive at the cross and the tomb of Christ prepared to celebrate our Lord’s defeat of death, the devil, and the power of evil over us.
I look forward to walking with you through Lent towards the cross and empty tomb. I hope you’ll join me, and I pray God will bless us richly during this Lenten season.
Pastor Butler +