This Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent, which is "a season of penitence and fasting" in faithful preparation for the celebration of Easter. In order to enter more deeply into the spirit of this season, we will be chanting The Great Litany at our services on Sunday. This is perhaps a new worship experience for some of us, or maybe a bit of “old hat” for others. I thought it might be helpful to share a little about this Litany (which is simply a fancy word for a ‘series of prayers’). The Great Litany is an ancient set of chanted prayers in use as early as the fifth century in Rome. It was modified by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century, for use in the first Book of Common Prayer (where we Anglicans/Episcopalians derive our order of worship). The Litany has a very ancient and traditional feel to it, and it reminds us that we are part of an ancient tradition that roots us in a long lineage of the faithful. Indeed, this year, we are chanting the Litany, in order to draw ourselves more deeply into the holiness of this season. You’ll notice this Sunday that the Litany begins with us calling upon the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Through our prayers, we will ask for deliverance from the powers of evil and the powers of death and destruction. We’ll call out in prayer, rooting ourselves in the very foundations of our faith, as we seek the power of Christ’s Incarnation, his life and death, and the hope of the Resurrection to deliver us to new life, and even transformation of our lives here and now. Our prayers this Sunday, through The Great Litany, are really driving us back down to the basics, even the ancient practices, prayers, and beliefs of our tradition. For many of us, the rootedness of our worship practices, that is, the ancient character of them, is life-giving. But, we should also remind ourselves that these may be new practices to others of us. So, let me encourage you to participate fully on Sunday through The Great Litany. Chant the responses, listen to your neighbors if this is new, remind yourself how we do this together and that it is “common prayer” that is and always has been the touchstone for Christian worship. This Sunday, as we enter more deeply into Lent, allow yourself to be taken into the holiness and intentionality, even the mindfulness, of this season. Allow yourself to enter into the mystery of God’s love and redemptive work in Christ for us all.
See you Sunday,