(This article first appeared in the March 2014 issue of the Anglican Journal.)
A variety of Lenten resources offered online
For Anglicans considering how to observe Lent this year, the Anglican Church of Canada is offering two online resources-one, a study of the Gospel of John and the other, a study of baptismal identity.
Love life: Living the gospel of love is a Lenten video series produced by the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) for the Anglican Church of Canada. Those who subscribe will begin receiving daily emails starting on Ash Wednesday, March 5, which will include short videos and a thought-provoking question to ponder during the day.
The Anglican Journal asked why the Gospel of John is particularly apt for Lenten study. According to Br. Geoffrey Tristram, Superior of the SSJE: “The intention and focus that people bring to observing Lenten practices makes Lent an ideal time for engaging deeply with the Gospel of John and its invitation to abundant life. After all, any Lenten practice, at heart, is not about curbing habits or developing spiritual disciplines for their own sake, but about freeing us up to hear and respond to God’s endless call of love.”
Jesse Dymond, online community co-ordinator, said that Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recommended working with the brothers after he returned from a retreat at SSJE in 2013. “We’ve made an effort over the last few years every Advent and Lent to look at a parish or a ministry in different parts of the church, and it was a great way to bring in a voice we don’t usually hear,” he explained.
Becoming the Story We Tell: renewing our commitment to Christ crucified and risen is the other online resource that the national church has developed and is offering for Lenten study.
The resource had its beginnings with a 2012 task force examining questions about Christian hospitality and “open table”-inviting those who are not baptized to communion-and expanded to a broader consideration of baptismal identity.
Dymond said he thinks the study will help Anglicans “ask some serious questions not just about spirituality and the Christian life and the Lenten journey but to say who are we as Anglicans, what is it that we are committed to, how does that manifest itself in our worship, whether that is congregational worship or the daily lives that we are living.”
He added that an online discussion site will be set up on Anglican.ca, and Anglicans across the country will be invited to join a larger discussion with Anglican across Canada.
Both resources are very useful, said Dymond. “I could see a parish using both in tandem actually with separate groups.”
The Primate’s Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) is also offering a Lenten study that focuses on the issues of food security in relation to baptismal vows. According to the online introduction the series will invite Anglicans to pray, act and give: “Our prayers will focus on celebrating our own privileged situation, acknowledging our ignorance about our less fortunate neighbours and expressing gratitude for the food security work of PWRDF. Our actions will focus on learning more about our own relationship with food as an expression of our faith. Our giving will invite us into financial commitment, as we are able, to support the ongoing food security efforts of PWRDF partners.”
Kairos, an ecumenical social justice organization supported by the Anglican Church of Canada, also has a weekly lectionary-based reflection series called “Spirited Reflections,” which will reflect Lenten themes.