Those of you who are new to Christ Church will notice a myriad of changes to the liturgy which take effect in Lent. I wanted to describe those in detail in this week's email.
First, we begin each Sunday with the Great Litany. This litany, originally compiled by Thomas Cranmer, is a series of repeated supplications for the Lord's mercy as well as words of thanksgiving. Throughout history, the Great Litany has been used in times of war and disaster. Through praying this in Lent, we remember that we are engaged in a war against sin and death, living in the disaster of this world. We are reminded to pray for the Lord's mercy and protection.
Secondly, we will recite the Decalogue, the list of the Ten Commandments. In Lent, we ask the Lord to incline our hearts to keep His Law and to write the words of the law on our hearts. This is followed by the confession.
Throughout Lent, you'll also notice the absence of the word Alleluia. This represents a kind of fasting from the joy of this mysterious word, so that we can return to it with renewed joy for the 50 days of Easter!
Lastly, you'll notice that crosses and other images are covered during Lent. This practice is also a kind of fasting. You'll see that the church will be rather bare. In Lent, we enter into a season of desolation, going into the desert as it were, to be with Jesus and with Him alone.