Lent at St. Stephen's Church
Lent begins with a day of special devotion and discipline known as “Ash Wednesday” which this year falls on March 1. The traditional worship for this day is especially powerful and calls for the “imposition of ashes.” Parishioners are invited to come forward to receive the imprint of ashes on their foreheads, as a sign of their mortality. In this stark way, we are put in mind of the difference between those things that are passing away and those things that endure forever.
Three Ash Wednesday services will be held in the main church:
- 7:30 a.m.
- 5:30 p.m.*
*Child care will be available during the noon and 5:30 p.m. services.
Morning Prayer, Evensong, and the Wonderful Wednesdays supper will not take place on Ash Wednesday.
Offerings for Lent
The Rule of St. Benedict // Mondays, 6:45-8 p.m., March 6 - April 10
Led by Pat Hartsock, a Benedictine oblate
Two ideas permeate the Rule of St. Benedict: love and wisdom. Love is the motive and wisdom is the goal and the way. The Rule show us that two great loves, love of God and love of the other, guide our lives and actions. While the Rule was developed for monastic life, we will study how it applies to those who live in the world dealing with money, work, family and community. The Rule of Benedict: Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister will be the text for the class. Register here.
Remember that you are dust: a Lenten reading and discussion group // Tuesdays, 6:30-8 p.m., March 7, 14, 21, and 28
Led by the Rev. Gary Jones, rector
“Remember that you will die.”
Our goal is to examine the difficult and unavoidable reality that everyone dies. We will focus on the inevitability of our own deaths, asking ourselves what our death might teach us about our life. How do we encounter our daily lives differently, after we have pondered our end? What do we mean when we ask God for the faith “to see in death the gate of eternal life”? What do we mean by “eternal life”?
Participants should commit to read:
- “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die,” by Jon Mooallem, The New York Times Magazine, January 3, 2017
- The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy (available from the parish bookshop)
- The Alsolife, by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton (available from the parish bookshop)
Space is limited. To sign up, please call the parish office at 804.288.2867.
Book Discussion Group: Life of the Beloved // Wednesday, March 8-April 12 // 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Led by Betsy Tyson
Henri J.M. Nouwen’s spiritual classic, Life of the Beloved, began as a simple request from one friend to another for a book explaining the spiritual life in terms that he and his friends could understand, avoiding theology and technical language. Nouwen’s answer has become one of the most cherished books of our era. “All I want to say to you is, ‘You are the Beloved.’” Copies are available in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen’s. You may register here.
Book Discussion Group: Soul Feast // Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m., March 9, 16, 30, and April 6
Led by Mary Fran Hughes-McIntyre from VIP Care and Anne Peck
First released in 1995, this spiritual classic continues to be a bestseller, as thousands each year accept Marjorie Thompson’s invitation to the Christian spiritual life. Soul Feast offers a framework for understanding the spiritual disciplines and instruction for developing and nurturing those practices. Study this book in preparation for Thompson’s visit to St. Stephen’s on May 5 as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care. You may register here.
The Bookshop @ St. Stephen's offers an excellent selection of books and devotional materials suitable for Lent.
The Daily Office
Though Daily Morning Prayer and Evensong are offered year-round at St. Stephen's Church, Lent can be an especially appropriate time to begin the practice of regularly attending one or both of these services from the Book of Common Prayer. Each lasts about 30 minutes and takes place in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (the side chapel closest to Grove Avenue) every weekday except when the parish office is closed.
Morning Prayer (followed by communion from the reserved sacrament) begins at 8:10 a.m. Many people like to gather in the cafe area next to the Large Fellowship Hall after this service to enjoy coffee and conversation before leaving for work or other commitments.
Evensong is the service of Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, with the psalms and other parts of the service being sung. This half-hour service begins at 5:30 p.m. On Wednesdays, the service is led by the Virginia Girls Choir and is followed by our midweek parish supper.
If you cannot be present for these weekday services, you may wish to say them on your own at home; the Daily Office begins on page 36 in the Book of Common Prayer.
St. Paul's Weekday Preaching Series // St. Paul's Episcopal Church across from Capitol Square has held a well-known preaching series since 1897 that takes place each weekday during Lent. They also serve lunch before and after these daily services ($8) with proceeds supporting St. Paul's outreach grants. You can read more about St. Paul's Lenten Preaching Series here.
Meditations from the Society of St. John the Evangelist // The brothers of SSJE, an Episcopal religious order, partners with Virginia Theological Seminary to offer daily Lenten meditations by email.
Forward Movement // Copies of Forward Day by Day (small booklets daily devotions based on the lectionary) are available for purchase in the parish office ($1 each). A selection of Forward Movement books is available in our bookshop.
Forward Movement has also announced A Season of Prayer: 40 Days in the Desert, offering a way to focus our prayers on the plight of refugees. Each day features a prayer or a scripture reading encouraging people to pray and reflect on our response to the global refugee crisis and the Christian obligation of hospitality and welcome.
As solemn as Lent is, it's also OK to leaven your observance with a bit of fun, and again, Forward Movement has something for you. "Lent Madness" (inspired by "March Madness" and the NCAA basketball tournaments) pits 32 saints against each other in a bracket, as each saint seeks to win the coveted Golden Halo. Throughout Lent, fans vote for their favorite saints at www.lentmadness.org. You can follow Lent Madness on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date.