Tuesday in the First Week of Lent: Feast of Bishop Quintard

“The Lenten season is especially a season of prayer”
The Rt. Rev. Charles T. Quintard

Bishop Quintard’s words are particularly poignant as the Lord’s Prayer appears in today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew. In fact, all three of our readings today encourage us to pray–the prophet Isaiah exhorts us to “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;” and the Psalmist reminds us that “his ears are open to their cry.”

Clearly God wants to hear from us, but how do we do it? Prayer is hard. Talking to the Creator of the Universe seems like a challenge. Is there some secret formula? Can we pray for what we want, or just what we need? Should we pray only for ourselves, or for others? Do we have to stand, or kneel, or bow our heads? Thankfully, Scripture gives us some guidance, and it seems quite simple. The first step, as Former ABC Rowan Williams said, is to boldly assert that God is our Father.

In seventy-two words, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, but he also gives us what N.T. Wright calls “the means by which the church celebrates what has been accomplished already in Christ and strains forward for what lies ahead.” As Episcopalians, the Lord’s Prayer forms a central part of our liturgy as it appears in almost every service from Morning and Evening Prayer to the Holy Eucharist to Baptism. The Lord’s Prayer gives us the template for our individualized prayers and gives us something to fall back on when we don’t know exactly what to say.

Having this immediate familial access to God gives us comfort and hope in times of suffering. It can be the only solace when a family member is sick or dying. It can give us the strength to persevere in the most adverse of circumstances because we know God is with us.

As we continue to journey through Lent, let’s remember Archbishop Welby’s call to just pray.

Matthew Taylor

Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 55:6-11, Psalm 34:15-22, Matthew 6:7-15

This reflection also appears on the Pathways through Lent blog sponsored by St. John’s Episcopal Church – Lafayette Square.

February 14

Today’s Gospel reading confuses me.

I don’t understand how a human can live 40 days without food.

 

well, that’s all.

First Friday of Lent: Ezekiel and the Sins

It took an entire day for me to forget about my newest Lenten Discipline–writing reflections on the day’s text. To be fair, I had the bus ride from… hell… on the way back from Baltimore and it took me a while to recover.

So, here we are on the First Friday of Lent. Ash Wednesday is over–now we’re just beginning to see if we can keep up with the disciplines we started two days ago.

As a recent convert to the liturgical religions, a Southerner, and an omnivore, not eating meat on Wednesday was a real struggle. I managed breakfast because there was no meat available. A PB&J lunch got me through until a Mediterranean dinner. I’ve decided that I can go full-Veggie on Good Friday, but until then, Fridays will be no-red-meat. A compromise I think I can live with.

Oh, back to the reflection.

Today’s reading from the Old Testament comes from Ezekiel. The BCP says to read Ezekiel 18:1-4 and 25-32, but Mission St. Clare included the in-between text–and wow. That’s a lot of sin to worry about.

Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

Thankfully, the lectionary reading emphasizes the most important part: We’re only responsible for our own sins. Not those of our parents or grandparents or our children. God only holds us responsible for our own iniquities.

if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period, 7 does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8 does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties, 9 follows my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances, acting faithfully such a one is righteous; he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD.

I’m still confused why we decided it was okay to charge interest.

 

Ash Wednesday: Remember You are Dust, and to Dust You Shall Return

Since deciding to join a liturgical church, I’ve been struck by the Gospel Reading for the Holy Eucharist Today:

And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

But at the same time, the prophet Daniel tells us:

Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

and the prophet Isaiah says:

Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

So, today, I washed my face, showered, packed a lunch (with no meat), and received the imposition of ashes.

The imposition of ashes and all of the other traditions associated with Ash Wednesday are beautiful. They remind us that we truly are “stardust.” Despite our stress, our desires, and our deeds, we are merely specks of dust in the universe.

Thankfully, despite our insignificance, God gave his only son Jesus Christ that we might attain Salvation.

As this is the first day of Lent, I’ve been trying to decide what my Fast or Rule will entail over these next 40 days.

To begin, I’m going to give up alcohol with an ABV over 20%. I should also try to fast from beer, but… maybe next year?

I’m going to try to conform with the Catholic practice of no meat on Fridays or other fast days. So, my lunch today is a PB&J.

I’m going to try to brew my own coffee and pack my own lunch. We’ll see how this goes.

I’m also going to try to remember to say the Noonday Office each weekday.

So, therefore, I wish you all a Holy Lent. May we each find true repentance through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.