Lent at St. Stephen's
Lent begins with a day of special devotion and discipline known as “Ash Wednesday” which this year falls on February 14. 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.
Most regular events, including Morning Prayer, Evensong, the Wonderful Wednesdays supper, and youth groups will not take place on Ash Wednesday. If you are not sure if your small group will be meeting that day, please check with your leader or convener.
Special offerings for Lent
Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John: A Lenten Retreat
Led by Br. Luke Ditewig, SSJE
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16 (6-9 P.M.), AND SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17 (9 A.M.-NOON)
Stop to breathe, remember, and refresh Love as we begin Lent. Would you like to deepen relationship with God? How does “God is love” feel in your everyday life? We will focus on stories and images from John’s Gospel, especially about Jesus with his closest friends. Friday and Saturday sessions are related yet independent from each other. Come to either or both for teaching with opportunities to pray alone and together.
The suggested donation is $25 for either session, or $40 for both. An additional donation of $10 is suggested for supper on Friday. Register here.
Surrounded With Sense: A Lenten Meditation on ‘Paradise Lost’
Three-part series in the Sunday Forum led by Gardner Campbell
FEBRUARY 25, MARCH 4 AND MARCH 11 // 10:10 A.M. IN THE FELLOWSHIP HALL
Explore what many consider the greatest poem ever written in the English language--on a par with The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid--John Milton's "Paradise Lost." Over three Sundays in Lent, we will gather together to experience short, intense, fascinating parts of this masterwork. Milton’s great epic is over 10,000 lines long, in twelve parts (or “books”), but this poet had a gift for locating the force and beauty of his “great argument” into brief passages of 50-100 lines, just enough for us to read and consider together in each of our Sunday meetings.
Gardner Campbell is associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Since completing his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 1992, he has served on the faculties of the University of San Diego, the University of Mary Washington, Baylor University, and Virginia Tech, teaching Milton studies, Renaissance literary studies, film studies, new media studies, and teaching and learning technologies. Gardner has published work in all these areas, and he is a lifetime member of the Milton Society of America.
Read more about this series, and how you can prepare for it (a little, a lot, or not at all), here.
Are you called to fast?
Led by the Rev. Claudia Merritt
INTRODUCTORY SESSION: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20 // 7-8 P.M.FAST: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21-FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Fasting is an ancient discipline of the church. It is a means of drawing closer to Christ through our intentional self-emptying, through a spiritual union with the poor and hungry, and through a heightened awareness of God's presence in our life. Lent is an especially appropriate time for fasting; it is commended to us in the Book of Common Prayer.
Come to an introductory session on Tuesday, February 20, 7:00-8:00 p.m., to explore whether the Spirit is inviting you to a three-day Lenten fast. Following a discussion of spiritual fasting, each participant can decide whether this might be part of his or her Lenten discipline this year.
The fast will begin on Wednesday, February 21 and conclude at Evensong on Friday, February 23. Coming to the February 20 session does not obligate anyone to fast; it is an opportunity for prayerful reflection. If you are interested, you may sign up at Information Central; if you have questions, please contact Claudia Merritt.
How Love Heals
A Workshop with Becca Stevens
SATURDAY, MARCH 17 // 9 A.M.-NOON
Spend a morning with the Episcopal priest and entreprenuer who founded Magdalene and Thistle Farms to help women leave the sex trade and overcome addiction and abuse to start new lives. Becca was named a 2016 CNN Hero and a White House “Champion of Change,” and is featured in the PBS documentary, “A Path Appears.” Among her many honors is being named Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America and being inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame. Becca, who herself the victim of childhood sexual abuse, has written several books, including one published last fall, Love Heals.
The suggested donation for this workshop is $25; please register here.
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.
The Bookshop @ St. Stephen's offers prayer books, Bibles, theological classics, devotional books and more. It is open during office hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) and on Sunday mornings.
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 with proceeds supporting St. Paul's outreach grants. You can read more about St. Paul's Lenten Preaching Series on their Web site.
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.
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.