Due to concerns about COVID19, this sermon was not delivered publicly. To hear the sermon, visit the Good News on the Go podcast.
* Those wishing to make their confessions should gather in the chapel and then go with the priest in turn to another part of the church for greater privacy
From the earliest years of Christianity, the faithful have made their way to the holy places in Jerusalem where Jesus suffered his passion and death. Although we have no set list of places those first pilgrims visited, over time there emerged a pattern, not only of places, but of special devotions practiced in those places. This pattern came to be known as the Via dolorosa (Way of sorrows) or Via crucis (Way of the cross). As Christianity spread, the number of pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem grew.
Almost since the first recorded pilgrimages to Jerusalem, we find also the recording of the longing experienced by those who were unable to make the trip. Those left at home while their neighbors traveled to the holy land, as well as those who could make the trip only once in a lifetime, sought a way to make a pilgrimage of the spirit along the way of the cross. Some achieved this by visiting a series of chapels, others wayside shrines, others by arranging artwork around the walls of a church or a cloister. For each, however, the aim was to make a series of “stations,” (stopping points) in order to pray and to meditate on some part of the passion narrative.
While the number and type of stations varied, by the seventeenth century a relatively standard list of stations had emerged:
Devotions might be made at these stations privately or in groups, praying silently or aloud, with or without music. While the Episcopal Church has devised a set of devotions for the Book of Occasional Services, any number of different devotions are appropriate.
At 6:30pm on Tuesday evenings during Lent*, we invite you to join us at the Church of the Holy Trinity for Stations of the Cross. We will gather at the front of the front of the church.*Except for March 25th, when we will join our sister parishes at the Cathedral of St. James for the Feast of the Annunciation.
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people; Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, )
Lent is a time when we focus on our obedience (or lack thereof) to the will of God. The word obey comes from the Latin word ob-audire, literally, to act upon what one hears. This is what the Epistle of James is getting at when he bids us to “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22). Before we can act upon what we hear, however, we must first hear what God is saying.
We humans are ingenious at finding ways to avoid hearing God’s call. Lucky for us, God is persistent! If one way of getting through to us doesn’t work, He tries another, and another, and another. Sometimes he uses words, sometimes he uses . . . other means.
Join us this Lent for a bible study that explores a few of the ways in which we do or do not hear God’s voice when He calls to us. Our goal will be to improve our hearing, so that we may be prepared to follow where the Shepherd is leading us.
March 11—Playing in the Dirt (Matthew 13: 1-23)
March 18—Anywhere but that! (Jonah 1:1-16)
March 25—No Study (Celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation at the Cathedral)
April 1—Fools speak folly (Isaiah 32:1-8)
April 8—Mirror, mirror (James 1:17-35)
April 15—Listening for His Voice in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46)
The following is adapted from the a letter to the parish in the March, 2014 Holy Trinity Newsletter.
As we enter the first days of Lent, many of us are belatedly thinking about what we will give up for Lent. I remember several years ago, just after our first child had been born, when Tim and I decided that we would give up sleep for Lent. Given how much sleep we had already given up during Epiphanytide, we didn’t think we could manage giving up anything else!
Some of us may be feeling just like that. Epiphany was hard on us this year, what with the weather and with the inevitable bumps and bruises of a transition period. We are hanging on, but our reserves are low—financially and otherwise. How, in the name of God, can we possibly give up anything else?
The key, of course, is giving it up in the name of God. In the Ash Wednesday service, we are reminded that even the earliest Christians used Lent as a time when “the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior.” In other words, Lent is a time when what we give up are our burdens of sin and shame. Unless you are giving up a sinful habit—say, the chocolate you have been stealing out of someone else’s candy bowl—the habits you change during Lent serve as a reminder of the spiritual habits you are trying, in the name of God, to change.
So, what are you giving up for Lent?
Do you bear a burden of anger or resentment that you are ready to lay down? Try setting it down for a moment or two at a time, not denying the burden, but allowing God to carry both it and you and that other person or situation. This is not an easy thing. Just as we have to practice realizing that we can live without chocolate, so also do we have to practice realizing what it is like to live without our resentments.
Do you bear a burden of anxiety? Try setting that down for a moment or two! Worrying about things is a way in which we try to control outcomes that are beyond our authority. Try returning the situation to its proper authority, pausing to praise the God in whose love all things work for good. Practice, just as you practice a new way of eating, attending primarily to the outcomes that are within your own authority to control.
Some burdens are harder to put down than others. For these, the church has long offered the sacrament of Confession as a way of formally enlisting the help of God and of the church as we engage the difficult practices of self-examination, repentance and reconciliation. Sacramental confession is available to you at any time by appointment. During Lent, sacramental confession will also be available regularly in the St. Joseph chapel on Tuesdays between 5:30 and 6:15pm. If you have any questions about which form might be right for you, do not hesitate to ask. The rule about confession in the Episcopal church is: all may, none must, some should.
With blessings and warm wishes for the observance of a holy Lent,
Thus begins the proper liturgy for Ash Wednesday, the “opening ceremonies,” if you will, for the forty days of penitence, forgiveness and restoration known to us as the season of Lent. Like the loving parent to whom we are constantly comparing Him, God loves us. He calls us to Himself, not in order to punish us but in order to restore us to all the benefits of fellowship with Him. Likewise, He calls us into fellowship with His whole creation, that we may live long and prosper in the land to which He has brought us.
Such fellowship requires us to understand our place in the universe. On Ash Wednesday, we remind ourselves that in love God made us from the dust of the earth, and in love God returns us to that dust. God knows that dust, by its very nature, is messy! Blessed are we in a God who is not afraid to get down in the dirt with us, because in the extremity of His love for us, God became dust in order to share in our experience as dust and to advocate for us in the day of judgment.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent.