Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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February 17, 2022

Dear Friends,
 
The Christian calendar is dominated by the Paschal Cycle. It is a period of time roughly moving from February into June every year, that carries us from the end of the season of Epiphany all the way through to Trinity Sunday. Theologically, the Paschal Cycle is the core of the church’s story, giving her identity and meaning. This cycle has been observed from the end of the first century onward. Central to the cycle is the narrative arc of Christ’s Passion, Resurrection, Ascension, and ultimately God’s bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the church.
 
We begin with the last Sunday following the Epiphany, during which we always hear some account of Jesus’ Transfiguration and visit with Moses and Elijah on the mountain. Then we find ourselves receiving Ashes as signs of our mortality and penitence as we begin our Lenten fast in preparation for Easter. The Book of Common Prayer invites us to a holy Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” Acknowledging the nature of the pandemic, we will work on ways to provide an “Ash Wednesday” kit so those of you who will join us online can still experience the Imposition of Ashes.
 
The ideal of Lent is the transformation brought about when one participates with God in one’s constant conversion into whom God creates and calls us to be. Our hope being that we are in some way made brand new when we sing the first Alleluias of Easter.
 
I have two ideas for our common observance of Lent. First, I’d like us to gather in the evening to pray Compline together. These are Night Prayers, and I’ve developed a version that combines elements from the rite found in The Book of Common Prayer and the New Zealand Prayer Book. This will be done on Zoom at 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. I have the service in Power Point presentations that can be shared over Zoom. I will be in attendance, and am happy to lead, AND I’d love for any of you to volunteer to lead. Second, on Wednesday evenings at 6:30, I’d like us to read Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time by Kristen Swenson. It is a smart and accessible read that is intended for laypeople by an academic who loves scripture and the church. The book is available in paperback and all electronic reader applications at all major booksellers.
 
Finally, I can’t tell you how nice it has been to be with y’all the last six weeks, and how forward Kate and I look to being moved into town and with you fully.
 
Your brother,
 
 
Michael