"As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." John 20:21
By Rector Clancy Nixon
Church of the Holy Spirit (CHS)
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday services, February 13
As Winter blasts his frigid breath, and Nature sleeps, awaiting Spring, the Church invites us to a Holy Lent. It's a somber call amid a bleak season. Outside, no growth is perceptible; but spiritual roots take their nourishment and medicine, empowering upward growth in due season.
A certain bamboo grows only one inch per year for four years. During that time, all the growth is in the roots: preparing, drinking, and growing strong underground. When all is ready, in the fifth year, this bamboo grows 80 feet tall in one season! In this example, the natural is pointing to the supernatural. A disciple's growth in the Spirit that all can see comes only after diligent preparation that few see. If you want evident spiritual fruit in your life, you can begin by nourishing your spiritual roots (John 15, Galatians 3).
God builds up your spirit man when you engage the spiritual disciplines that He has appointed in His Word: prayer, fasting, and self-denial; Bible study, self-examination, and service, to name a few. The worldwide Church joins together in these 40 days we call Lent, to prepare our souls and spirits for the remembrance of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord during Holy Week.
The Lenten tradition of the Church takes its inspiration from Jesus' 40 days of solitude, prayer, and fasting in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). Our Lord did this immediately after his public ministry began, as necessary preparation for His ministry to come. He confronted the devil and withstood temptation. As the master, so goes the student. Jesus assumed his disciples would fast and pray (Matthew 6:16).
I invite you to join me in a Holy Lent.
There are two parts to a Holy Lent: your personal discipline, and our corporate discipline.
First, for you personally: The wisdom of the ages suggests giving something up for Lent, and taking something on. Many of you already know what God is calling you to do, for he has been whispering it to you for some time. Just do it. The rest of us are invited to pray and ask God what He would have us give up and take on. It helps to settle this with God before Lent starts. Some people give up certain foods for Lent, like sugar, chocolate, or meat. Others give up sinful, unhealthy, or simply distracting habits, like gossip, smoking, or television. What to take on? For many, a daily quiet time of Bible reading and prayer, as little as ten minutes or as much as an hour or more, is a great place to start. For others, God is calling you to find a place of service, particularly for someone who is sick, elderly, needy, widowed, or in prison. For help with how to serve in those ways, see one of the CHS Deacons, John Nuzum or Dave Prosser. If you have a difficult time discerning God's will for your personal fast, may I suggest you join us in our corporate Lenten discipline.
Second, our corporate Wednesday fast: I invite the whole CHS family to join me in fasting from all media every Wednesday during Lent. In American culture, media has become a huge distraction from things of the Spirit. Please fast with me from Facebook, TV, internet surfing for entertainment, movies, music other than worship music, newspapers, books other than the Bible, and whatever you find distracting from your relationship with God. As an aid to this fast, please consider skipping solid food at lunch with me on Wednesdays in Lent as well. If you have medical or work-related reasons not to participate, please modify this fast as led. I know that most of us need to use our phones and computers for our work. Lent begins with our Ash Wednesday service, February 13, at 7:00 PM, featuring the traditional imposition of ashes. On Wednesdays in Lent, we will also offer a half-hour Eucharist at 6:30 PM each week, followed by a simple communal meal to break our fast and share our journeys. Come eat if you can; stay and fast if you will. You are welcome to stay and pray after our meal.
Ash Wednesday reminds us of our mortality, and of our need for repentance and amendment of life, so that we are truly ready to meet our Maker. It continues as our Sunday worship takes account of this season of repentance with an emphasis on confessing our sins and turning toward godly living. We're also following daily devotionals in "Seek God for the City 2013" which you can learn more about here at waymakers.org. A mobile app is also available here; Lent culminates with the events of Holy Week, March 24-31: Our Palm Sunday Passion Play, Maundy Thursday Passover Seders in homes, Good Friday observance, and our Easter Sunday Celebration. See above for service times.
Bring the whole family to as many of these events as you are able. The celebration of Easter is so much sweeter after the labor of Lent. The deeper you press in with spiritual disciplines, the deeper your roots will grow. Deep roots produce great growth, in due season.
About Church of the Holy Spirit
Church of the Holy Spirit (Anglican) in Leesburg is a loving fellowship of friends. We welcome you, your family, and absolutely everyone! We enjoy worshiping the Lord together on Sundays at 10:00 at our beautiful new facility at 908 Trailview Boulevard, in Cardinal Park in Leesburg, which is visible from Route 7. When you come, you'll experience blended contemporary and traditional music and worship, teaching from the Bible to apply to your life and fresh coffee and friendly fellowship afterwards. We believe strongly in the ministry of small groups for mutual care, fellowship, prayer and discipleship in God's Word. As we love one another, we grow into the character of the Lord Jesus. We'll help you to discover your spiritual gifts and passion, and serve using them. As we love God and our neighbors, and make disciples who make disciples, God's Kingdom is breaking in!
Our worship is alive with the presence of the Holy Spirit, as are our lives. People have made lifelong friends here. Our many children and youth are growing in love and service. We are a community that expects and sees miracles.
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