Some think of Lent as a long, dark season focused on sin, death, and self-denial; but that’s not really true. In fact, the word “Lent” means “Spring.” The practices of Lent are about pruning back bad habits, tilling the soil of our souls, and applying fertilizer. They are about taking intentional action to cultivate a meaningful relationship with the Holy and making that relationship a higher priority in our lives.
In the western church, the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), omitting Sundays. Perhaps instead of giving something up for Lent this year, we invite you to consider taking something on that will help you deepen, strengthen, and expand your relationship with God in Christ. Put your Faith in Action by experimenting with a new prayer practice, taking on daily spiritual reading, joining the book study to wrestle through doubts or frustrations you have with the Christian Church at large, or choosing to attend all the worship services of Holy Week.
Here are some offerings at St. John’s to help you dig a little deeper this Lent.
Shrove Tuesday (traditional pre-lenten feast)
Tuesday, Feb 13 from 5 PM – 7 PM
As we prepare to enter the season of Lent with its emphasis on self-discipline, the tradition of the Church is to gather for a big, silly feast of pancakes with awesome toppings & sides that make the most of sugar, fat, and empty carbs! Our Pancake Supper is served at two “seatings” in the Parish Hall: 1) from 5 – 6 PM & 2) from 6 – 7 PM
“Imposition of Ashes” will be offered for children, youth, & families from 5 PM – 5:15 PM (It’s Ash Wednesday one day early!) in the Church Nave/Sanctuary, then we can all join the first seating of the pancake feast!
Please make a donation at the door if you are able — all proceeds will go to support our middle- and high-school Episcopal Youth Ministry (EYC). They’ll be our waitstaff for the evening!
Ash Wednesday Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes
Wednesday, Feb 14 @ 12 Noon & 7 PM
The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of repentance, an acceptance of our mortality, and an attitude of humility toward God as we begin the journey of Lent.
We will be streaming our noon service LIVE on Zoom, CLICK HERE to register. You are also invited to watch the service LIVE on our YouTube Channel or watch the service recording later on YouTube.
Weekly Healing Eucharist
Wednesdays @ Noon (Feb 21, Feb 28, Mar 6, Mar 13, Mar 20)
Eucharist with focus on healing of body, mind, spirit, and society. Individual intercessory prayer and anointing with oil will be available each week.
Palm Sunday/The Sunday of the Passion
March 24 @ 7:45 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:15 AM
This service begins in joyful anticipation and ends in reflective silence, re‑tracing the arc from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem through his suffering and death on the cross.
Monday of Holy Week
March 25 @ 12 Noon in the Church Nave/Sanctuary
Description of Centering Prayer below. Facilitated by parishioner, Kathryn Kelley.
Tuesday of Holy Week
March 26 @ 12 Noon in the Church Nave/Sanctuary
Description of Centering Prayer below. Facilitated by parishioner, Kathryn Kelley.
March 28 @ 7:00 PM
On Maundy Thursday we remember the Last Supper and contemplate Jesus’s commandment to love one another. This is one of the most intimate and beautiful services of the entire church year.
Good Friday: The Stations of the Cross
March 29 @ 12:00 Noon
On Good Friday we re-tell the story of Jesus’s arrest, trial, suffering, and death as we walk the Stations of the Cross, a practice of Christians pilgrims since at least the 4th century.
In-person in the Columbarium (outdoors), weather permitting.
Good Friday: The Proper Liturgy
March 29 @ 7:00 PM
On Good Friday evening we read the Passion story from the Gospel of John and contemplate the mystery of Christ’s death on the cross.
Easter is the central feast of the Christian year. We’ll celebrate as a parish community and extend a warm welcome to many local families who will join us.
@ 7:45 AM
A quieter, more contemplative Holy Eucharist with no instrumental or choral music.
@ 9:30 AM
Holy Eucharist with festive choral, bell, and instrumental music.
@ 11:15 AM (Tapestry)
Interactive, intergenerational Eucharist for all ages.
Easter Egg Hunt @ 10:45 AM Easter Morning
in the upper Churchyard between the 9:30 AM & 11:15 AM services
Lenten Quiet Day
Saturday, February 17 @ 9:00 AM – 12 Noon
Nave (Sanctuary) & Parish Hall
“Lent: A Quest for the Spirit’s Voice.”
Led by The Rev. Dr. Lorraine Ljunggren, Priest Associate (retired)
Like people of every age, we are surrounded by many voices in the places we inhabit on a daily basis. Amid the noisiness of modern life, it can be challenging to find or make time to listen for the Spirit of the Holy One calling us. In keeping with Ash Wednesday’s invitation to the observance of a holy Lent, we’ll gather for a series of brief reflections followed by quiet times in our quests for the Spirit’s voice.
Wednesday Evening Adult Study
Wednesdays @ 6:00 PM (Feb 21, Feb 28, Mar 6, Mar 13, Mar 20)
Three of these Wednesday evening gatherings will focus on the book Do I Stay Christian?: A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned, by Brian MacLaren. Read Christian Century book review here. The book is organized into sections that relate to: 1) why the author has been tempted to reject the Christian faith; 2) why he is still moved to affirm and celebrate his Christian faith; and 3) how he (and we) might live and thrive within this tension. Responses to the book will be shared by a panel of parishioners — David Bland, Helen Holt, and Roxanne Johnson (read bios here) — followed by discussion in large and smaller groups. Please purchase the book on your own at your favorite bookseller or borrow from a library. See below for each week’s reading assignment.
In addition, two Wednesdays during Lent are dedicated to discussions about the disturbing rise in Christian nationalism in the U.S., and the devastation and hope of recovery from substance abuse disorders within families.
Wed, February 21: Part 1 (chapters 1 – 10) of Book Study on Do I Stay Christian?: A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned, by Brian MacLaren.
Wed, February 28: Forum on the Rise of Christian Nationalism in the U.S. Panelists: David Bland, Tom Baker IV, and Rev. Doug Long (read bios here)
Wed, March 6: Part 2 (chapters 11 – 20) of Book Study on Do I Stay Christian?: A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned, by Brian MacLaren.
Wed, March 13: Substance Abuse & Our Stories With It
Panelists: St. John’s parishioner, long-time recovering alcoholic and member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Harry Halbert & Joseph (Joe) Jordan, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Physicians Health Program. Joe has more than 25 years of experience working with persons experiencing substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. Prior to joining NCPHP, Dr. Jordan served as Ethics Officer and Director of Special Projects for a national credentialing board. Dr. Jordan has served on state and national committees and boards devoted to the study, development, and refinement of substance abuse counseling practice. He is also the son of St. John’s parishioners, Alice & Dewey Jordan.
Wed, March, 20: Part 3 (chapters 23 – 28), Book Study on Do I Stay Christian?: A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned, by Brian MacLaren.
Practice a Simple Way to Pray: The Method of Centering Prayer
Tuesdays @ 2:30 PM (Feb 20, Feb 27, Mar 5, Mar 12, Mar 19)
Education Building, Multipurpose Room
Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week@ 12:00 Noon (Mar 25 and 26)
Church Nave (Sanctuary)
This Lent St. John’s will offer a guided practice of Centering Prayer. These gatherings will be facilitated by parishioner Kathryn Kelley who has extensive experience in practicing this method personally and with others at her former parish, Christ Church, Charlotte. Learn a bit more about her here.
Centering Prayer provides an atmosphere where we can center our attention on God’s presence within. It allows us to set aside time to be with God in a group setting, engaging in the prayer of the heart. By sitting relaxed and quiet in faith, we express love to God who dwells in the center of our being. Centering Prayer is not intended to replace other forms of prayer, but rather encourages prayer with God through the powerful language of silence. Learn more about Centering Prayer here.
Try Out a Regular Practice of Morning Prayer (using The Book of Common Prayer with St. John’s Morning Prayer Group)
If you want to explore a new practice of prayer with others at St. John’s as part of your Lenten spiritual journey, consider joining the Morning Prayer Group during this season. They meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning via Zoom at 7:30 AM. If you wish to try it, please contact Barbara Kwiatek in our church office to get the Zoom link and meeting passcode. (And if you need coaching on how to use Zoom, Barb can help with that, too.) Simply email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 919-556-3656.
The Rhythm of Prayer
Sun, Feb. 18 @ 4 PM in the Church Nave/Sanctuary
A contemplative drum circle for all ages combining prayer, poetry, and music. Sunday, February 18th, beginning at
4 PM in the Sanctuary. For additional details contact our Music Director, Karole at KaroleB@stjohnswf.org
On Your Own
Walk the Lenten Labyrinth at St. John’s
As Lent begins, the lines of a labyrinth will be marked in the circular grass area in St. John’s Columbarium. The labyrinth is available daily throughout the Lenten season starting on the 1st Sunday of Lent for walking meditation and prayer. An optional prayer guide is provided at the entrance. All are welcome. Thanks to the Roberts family for painting the labyrinth lines for us! Learn more about labyrinths here.
Consider a Form of Fasting
Fasting from certain foods
To ‘fast’ is to abstain from something – traditionally food and/or drink – for a period of time. For centuries, people of all religions have fasted for spiritual reasons. Christians have developed particular ways of fasting, and there are certain days, seasons, and purposes for which it is appropriate to fast. Learn more here: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Fasting
Fasting from destructive behaviors
Wake Forest Community Meals (donate meals and/or sign up to serve in person)
Volunteer to distribute chef-made meals, produce, and groceries on Mondays (Hope House 334 North Allen Rd. Wake Forest from 5-5:30 PM or Wednesday nights from 6-6:30 PM at Olive Branch Baptist Church 326 E Juniper Ave) SIGN UP HERE.
Make desserts on Monday nights so that we can add a sweet treat to the meal bags. SIGN UP HERE.
Transport food as a volunteer driver. SIGN UP HERE
Walking Through Lent with Children
40 Day “Love Builds Up” Challenge for Families (download booklet for use at home)
Practice building others up in love with one challenge per week during Lent with exercises that help build self-confidence, practice gratitude, get comfortable with mystery, and find purpose. We’ll have printed copies available at worship through the end of February or Download and Print Love Builds Up Booklet here.
Spiritual Practices Practicum for Families
Sundays after Tapestry, Feb 18, Feb 25, Mar 3, and Mar 10 in the Parish Hall & Parish Playgrounds
We’ll have lunch & play time after Tapestry and offer a 10 minute “lesson” (for those who want it) on a different spiritual practice you might try at home with your family. Ideas will include things like connecting “Highs and Lows” to praying for and blessing each other; introducing meditation to children; and “praying in color” (art as prayer).
“Holy Week In a Day” for Children & Families
Sunday, March 17 at Tapestry (11:15 AM Intergenerational Service)
Since many local, public schools will be on vacation over Holy Week (Mar 24 – Mar 31) and many families may be traveling, we will celebrate “Holy Week in a Day” during the Tapestry service on Sunday, Mar 17 at 11:15 AM. As we worship, we’ll move through Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday “stations” as we prepare for Easter Day celebrations wherever we may be!
Holy Eucharist Mini-Retreat for Children
Saturday, February 24 from 9 AM – 12 Noon, starting in the Parish Hall
Children aged 6 – 10 are invited to gather for this mini-retreat with Mo. Sarah to explore the meaning of Holy Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper) through conversation, art, a scavenger hunt, and baking communion bread. Parents and families are invited to return at 11:30 AM for a Eucharist in the main church using the bread your children have baked. Whether or not your child is already participating in this sacrament during worship, this is a good age at which they may grow into deeper understanding of it. Those who participate will be recognized during our worship services on Sun, Feb 25. Email Barbara in the Church Office at email@example.com to RSVP, noting names and ages of children.