Gift of Lent

We Invite You to God’s Chosen Fast

Matthew 25 Initiative

Anglican Relief and
Development Fund

Isaiah 58:6–8

“Is not this the fast that i choose:
 to loose the bonds of wickedness,
 to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free…
to share your bread with the hungry
 and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
 and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn
Archbishop Foley Beach:
Throughout the Church’s history, Christians have given alms as a lenten discipline, following Christ’s command to love the lost and least. During Lent, the Anglican Church in North America encourages you to make giving central to your Lenten fast.

Prayer

The Trinity Mission
Daily Prayer with the Rev. Michael Jarrett
of the Trinity Mission

November 15

Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer

Giving

Stories of sacrificial giving that bring hope, at home and around the world.

Ciudad Nueva

M25i grant recipient Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach seeks to embody the gospel of Jesus Christ by advancing the renewal and development of central El Paso’s Rio Grande neighborhood through the empowerment and transformation of its residents. They want to interrupt cycles that ensnare in poverty and despair. They aspire to cultivate hope and an environment where kids, families, and the community are empowered to move toward a successful future where these statistics are no longer a reality.

Support M25i

Brazil

For this ARDF project, the diocese will renovate a multi-purpose gym in Pernambuco that will serve members of the community and complement House of Hope’s outreach programs. The current gym lacks a roof, exposing users to the rain or tropical sun. With the renovated space, the Diocese of Recife will be able to offer programs that boost the lives of community members. Services will include support groups and prenatal care for teen and single mothers as well as an after school program for children.

Support ARDF

Stories

Leaders from across the province share stories of disciples who are living a life of submission to God’s chosen fast.

Today:

Rev. Dr. Benjamin Fischer

Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church
christtheredeemernampa.com

“Is not this the fast that I choose… to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

There are few burdens so heavy and so difficult to explain as the loss of a child before he or she ever takes a breath. Yet, one in four women will suffer a known miscarriage or stillbirth.

Six years ago, James and Stephanie Robledo were excitedly making space in their home and hearts for a new baby, when misgivings sent them to their doctor for a checkup. They remember the blur of faint hope, fear, and confusion until the doctor soberly announced, “You’ve lost the baby.”

Anyone who has heard those words knows the momentary inability to make sense of them, or to receive other well-meaning comments like, “These things happen,” or “You can try again.” As James and Stephanie were sharing their pain with another couple, they began wondering aloud: What could offer real comfort? What could begin to loosen the straps of the yoke and free families from the oppression of unexpressed grief?

From those conversations, they joined together in David’s Hope Pregnancy Loss Ministry. David’s Hope began by helping families acknowledge that in a miscarriage, parents have suffered the loss of a life and of a particular hope. Through the gift of “memory boxes,” which contain a Certificate of Life along with small gifts, the ministry provides tools to make concrete the often unnamed and unarticulated hope that has been cut short. Like a fear that has been named and lost its terror, this concretizing of grief is a way to begin healing.

Through the boxes, David’s Hope has become known for understanding this unique loss and connecting families with the One who knows and heals every hurt. When they could be enjoying entertainment or relaxing on a weekend, these Redeemer parishioners pour out their lives, time, and resources to provide counseling, visit hospitals, conduct memorials, and share wisdom with pastors who feel inadequate to comfort their grieving parishioners. They are living the fast, undoing the straps of the yoke.

 

Today:

Good Friday

Johnne Donne

O Savior, as thou hang'st upon the tree;
I turn my back to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O think me worth thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may'st know me, and I'll turn my face.
—John Donne, from "Good Friday 1613, Riding Westward"
Anglican Poet and Priest John Donne lived a life of tensions—between body and soul, death and life, faith and work. He wrote this now famous poem at a moment of particular conflict between his desire to devote every attention to the sacred occasion of Good Friday and the practical obligations of his job, which had him riding westward, away from the rising sun.
The poem begins with an extended metaphor of the soul as a sphere or planet, which should move at the impulse of its devotion to God. And yet, the narrator explains, the motions of other spheres—of 'pleasure' or 'business'—interfere with the movement of our soul, harrying and hurrying us away from our rhythm of devotion. This, Donne relates, is his situation now, drawn off course this Good Friday by the demands of duty.
Perhaps many of us find ourselves with our backs turned to Christ at this moment, feeling so hurried and so pulled in every direction that we are suddenly here, feeling unprepared. We imagine that we ought to have been ready for this—after all, wasn't that what Lent was all about?
But the conclusion to Donne's poem, excerpted here, reminds us of the paradoxical truth of Lent. In Lent, we offer to Christ our backs, not as the rebellious children seeking to escape, but as the humbled servants prepared to accept punishment. Indeed, as the poet explains, these 'corrections' would be welcome; they mark us as ones worth correcting. And yet the 'punishment' we receive isn't a punitive paying out for our sins—we aren't getting what we deserve, thanks be to God. Instead, we are transformed, restored to the Image of God. Certainly, this restoration process is bound to cause us pain, much as the character Eustace felt in C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when the great lion Aslan 'undragoned' him. But even this pain we will count as joy if only then we might be invited to turn our eyes toward Him, and—being thus remade—be fully known by our loving Father.
The Gift of Lent is our 'undragoning.' It is our willing offering of our repentance—our prayers, our fasting, and our alms. It is our cry to God to burn off our rusts and set right our deformity. Because of Christ's work on the cross, God turns our faces back to Him and offers His warm embrace.
Over this season, it's been our hope that this Gift of Lent might be one you share. That, having been transformed and having witnessed the continued work of God's kingdom in the world, transforming lives and communities, you might imitate Christ's selfless love. Whether it's through the work of your local parish, or the ministries of the Matthew 25 Initiative or the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, or any other opportunity, we pray you will find joy in joining God in His work in the world.

Art Spotlight

Each week, we will highlight the work of an artist engaging with Lenten themes.
This week:

David Ligare

Still Life with Grape Juice and Sandwiches (Xenia)

[Art credit: David Ligare, Still Life with Grape Juice and Sandwiches (Xenia), 1994. Oil on canvas, 20″ × 24″. de Young Museum, San Francisco.] Translated literally as “guest-friendship,” the word xenia expresses the ancient Greek notion of hospitality, which included the practice of providing guests and strangers with baskets of food. In that culture, xenia was regarded as a social responsibility and, more than that, a religious offering. This is not so unlike ancient Jewish culture, with its laws providing for the care of strangers (e.g., Leviticus 19:34), and later, Christianity, with its scriptural injunctions to “be given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13; cf. Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Neo-classical artist David Ligare invokes the concept of hospitality in his painting Still Life with Grape Juice and Sandwiches, subtitled Xenia. Staged against the California coast inside an open stone-walled structure, a pitcher of grape juice and a stack of bologna sandwiches catch some sun. These foodstuffs were inspired by Ligare’s time as a volunteer with the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra, distributing meals to the homeless—an activity he has been engaged in for decades. Traditionally, the still-life genre reflected not just the artist’s mastery of technique but also the philosophical, spiritual, or moral questions of the age. This painting sits well in that tradition. According to Ligare, “the picture is truly complete if it inspires others to enjoy the privilege of serving those ‘strangers’ among us who are in such need.” The allusion to the bread and wine of the Eucharist cannot be missed, not only because of the sameness of substance but because of the reverent way in which the elements are presented, as if on an altar. One question the painting raises is how to define Christ’s body. A multivalent term, it is used in scripture to refer to, among other things, the church, who is to be the hands and feet of Christ, and, less directly, to society’s most vulnerable, whom we are to serve as if they were Christ himself (Matthew 25:31–46). May Christ’s gracious offering of himself compel us to offer ourselves to others in radical hospitality, extending friendship to every corner of our city. And may the broken and crushed find nourishment this season at Christ’s table. To view more of Ligare’s paintings, visit www.davidligare.com. The Art Spotlights have been selected by Victoria Emily Jones, who blogs at ArtandTheology.org, seeking to connect Christians to the rich visual, literary, and musical artworks of the church’s past and present. She is currently working on a chapter for the forthcoming book Neo-Calvinism and the Visual Arts, and has just released a Stations of the Cross audio tour of works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Follow her on Twitter @artandtheology.