Updated: Feb 18
Greetings brothers and sisters at All Souls,
We are quickly approaching the Great Fast, during which we will journey with the Lord Jesus into the wilderness for forty days so that we might do battle with and share in his victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Lent begins on February 26th, so make plans to attend the Ash Wednesday service at 6:30 pm at Bay Lake Elementary. At that time we will be exhorted "to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (1979 Book of Common Prayer, 265).
The Daily Office
One of the main ways that we do the above (not only in Lent but throughout the Christian Year) is by praying the Daily Office. Similar to what we did in Advent, a prayer guide will be provided which will help us to pray the office together even though we're not physically together. It's hard to overstate how important this is to the life of the Church, and to the DNA of All Souls.
The Way of the Heart
In concert with the Daily Office, we will be having small group gatherings for five weeks where will be going through a book on the Desert Fathers --- The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen.
This is a perfect Lenten study as we will be digging into the ancient Christian practices of solitude, silence, and prayer. Sign up for a group here: https://allsoulsfl.churchcenter.com/groups/small-groups
During Lent, there will be some exciting and marked changes to the liturgy, and I want you all to be prepared:
First, we will be chanting the psalms throughout Lent. Plenty of guidance will be given, so don't worry. Plus, as theologian Tony Horton, creator of P90X, always says, "Do your best and forget the rest" (not really a theologian, guys).
Second, the Peace will be said after the Fraction (i.e. the Breaking of the Bread). While this is unusual for most Anglicans (myself included), it is, however, the traditional placement, and is permitted by the rubrics of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (See p. 407).
Moreover, during a penitential season like Lent, having the Peace in this position reinforces liturgically that Christ has made "peace by the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20). It is by the Cross of Jesus Christ that we are forgiven of our sins, that we are no longer at enmity with God. It is by his precious body and blood that we are reconciled with God, that we have peace with Him and with the fellow members of Christ's mystical body.
Thus, moving the Peace helps to teach us the meaning of the Passing of the Peace which is an acknowledgment of the peace (the reconciliation) we have with God through the Cross of Jesus Christ as well as an affirmation that we are reconciled (practically) with one another (See Matthew 5:23-24).
Also, moving the Peace to after the Fraction helps to teach us what the Peace is not, namely an intermission between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table. And this is true regardless of where it occurs during the Holy Eucharist. It's an action of worship rather than a break in the action.
So this is how it'll work: the service will move immediately from the Prayers of the People (except the First Sunday in Lent where they will be omitted on account of the Great Litany) to the Offertory (during which the children will be brought in from their classes). With regard to announcements, those will be given immediately after the service at the beginning of coffee (half) hour.
Brothers and sisters, I'm really excited about what the Lord is going to do in and through us during Lent. Join me in prayer for our church that God would prepare us to observe this holy season so that we may truly know him and make him known.
Fr. Matthew Ainsley
(Prospective) Vicar of All Souls