Just by reading that one word, I bet your mind was flooded with images, words, and memories. When I hear the word “Lent,” my mind jumps to words like ashes, sin, penitence, fasting, forgiveness, and death. Whatever you associate with Lent, some Lenten themes can make us squeamish. Sin and penitence, for example, are not only difficult ideas to understand, but also concepts that evoke strong emotions, often negative ones, in each of us.
I say all of this because, whether you are a life-long Episcopalian or a new worshiper with us, you will notice that our liturgy dramatically changes in Lent. We incorporate many of these evocative Lenten words with the purpose of renewing ourselves spiritually before Easter.
Today, I wanted to write about one of the liturgical changes we will make: the use of Eucharistic Prayer C. If you are familiar with this prayer, I know what you are thinking…Yes, that is the “Star Wars” prayer. It’s jokingly called that because we read about the “vast expanse of interstellar space.” However, we also get a lot of Lenten language. The prayer talks about humanity betraying God’s trust and turning against one another. We acknowledge our sin and remember that God called us to return to lives of righteousness. We then say together about Jesus, “by his blood, he reconciled us. By his wounds, we are healed.” All this language points us to the relationship between our sin and God’s redemption. No doubt, this strikes us all as very Lenten.
In the closing part of Eucharistic Prayer C, there is a notable shift from a theme of penitence to a theme of spiritual renewal, which is why I believe this Eucharistic prayer is so fitting for Lent. We pray, “deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.”
I believe that this Eucharistic prayer describes the journey we take in lent. We recognize that we sin, hurting God and each other. We know that we are redeemed, receiving such abundant grace that we are overwhelmed. And finally, we are spiritually strengthened and renewed so that we are ready to serve Jesus in the world. As we embark on this Lenten journey, I pray that we may all be spiritually renewed.
This post was written by our Associate Rector, The Rev. Will Drosos