Lent as a time of Preparation for Baptism

Baptism a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Traditionally Lent has been a time of intense preparation for Baptism. In the Early Church there were many converts from other religions to Christianity and they needed to learn about the Doctrine and Theology of the Christian faith which was in stark contrast to the religions from which they were converting. Today even non- Christians are exposed to the basic ideas of the Christian faith, and yet very often it is this  perception of the world in what Christianity is about that is the foundation of most people’s religion and not the true teachings of the Church. Furthermore the “Religion” of this era is consumerism and we do not do enough to counter the effects of this idolatry. Consumerism is not the practice of buying goods, it is a mindset of participation in the idolatry of goods.  We as Christians need to be transformed by the renewal of our minds and not follow the pattern of the World. This is the focus of lent. Lent is not about deprivation it is about transformation!

This lent it is wonderful to have so many people being prepared for Baptism and I would like to use a few different Mechanisms to conduct the teaching and preparation. The Baptism Service will be held on the 11th of April (18h00)  at the Lighting of the Fire – Holy Saturday Service at St Mary’s. At this service the entire community reaffirm their baptismal Promises.

Every service during this process ( Palm Sunday, Passover Meal, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) is a part of the great drama of Christ’s Passion (ministry) and I encourage you all to fully participate in this journey.

I am also encouraging all the families who are in preparation for Baptism to take an Anglican Prayer Book APB ( please sign for it and return it after Easter). During Lent I ask you to study the Catechism pg 423 on-wards and the Service of Baptism pg 215-220. We will be discussing these things in detail.

ASH Wednesday.

This Holy Day is one of the two FAST days commemorated by the Anglican Church. On these days the amount of food eaten is reduced. ( APB pg 437.103)

The Weekdays of Lent are days of self-denial when we discipline ourselves through some means of conscious denial (see the Lenten Earth Fast for 2020). This assists us to evaluate the things we do and use in our daily lives and help us to value what God has provided, and discipline us in their use.

We also Commemorate most Friday’s as days of Self Denial. APB pg 438. 103, explains our observance of days of Self Denial.

Lent is not a time of mourning our sinfulness, it is a time of re-ordering our lives so that the sins that so easily ensnare us ( Prov 5:22 and Gal 5:1) can be abandoned and our behavior changed to enable us to serve God more freely.

We receive ashes on our foreheads as a physical act of submission and repentance. “A contrite heart you will not despise.”  says the psalmist – (Psalm 51:17) We use the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Celebration to make the ashes- a reminder that though we are given to praise God and we Hail him as King, we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and  are trapped in our sinful nature and need constant repentance and transformation of our hearts and minds. Jesus has conquered the sinful nature but we have to submit to His authority in our lives and we have to be obedient. This choice to not serve our own longings but to submit to Christ is called repentance – we are not just saying sorry to Christ – we are submitting to Christ.

Lent is a time for deepened prayer and the reading of Scripture.

I am calling on every member of our community to commit to reading the daily Eucharist readings. I know many already do, but this is a chance to recommit to that pattern of daily reading. The Prayer dairy provided is a wonderful way to construct your prayer life, please use it.

I draw you attention to focuses of LENT this year, which are a pilgrimage of penitence, faith and gratitude for the gift of salvation.” (Lectionary 2020).

  • Lent I  -the expected response to the Covenant;
  • Lent II  – the Covenant of Abraham and the prediction of the Passion of Christ;
  • Lent III – the offer of Salvation;
  • Lent IV – the Celebration of the Passover after the entry into the promised Land, and
  • Lent V – The Raising of Lazarus against the background of the valley of Dry Bones. 

We will be focusing on Prayer this lent and have a Lent Prayer course running both in the morning and evenings to make it available for everyone. We will also meditate on the Stations of the Cross on Friday mornings – (see the pew bulletin for details).

Let us pray:

God our Father,

We praise you that you are always ready to forgive the penitent. Bring us by your Spirit to true repentance and the joy of knowing forgiveness. Accept through Jesus Christ our Lenten acts of love and sacrifice. Prepare us to celebrate  this Passover and to share his risen life.

Amen.

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