Lent begins with our Ash Wednesday worship on February 26th.
There will be a Eucharist at both 10am and 8pm.
Also a children’s Eucharist at 6.30pm
All will include the Anointing of Ash.
The Lenten journey begins with the anointing of ash.
We are reminded of our vulnerability as human beings
and our dependence upon God’s presence, love, and grace in our life.
In the creation story in the book of Genesis
we are told that humankind was created from the dust of the earth.
The anointing of ash on this day reminds us of our origins;
and that our life is a gift of God
lovingly crafted from the dust of the earth.
The ash is also mixed with holy oil as a reminder of our divine heritage.
We are more than mere mortals,
Not only are we mortal, we are children of the Living God.
We may well be fallible, vulnerable, human beings
but we are also filled with the very essence of our Creator.
The anointing on Ash Wednesday reminds us of both
and it is a very fitting way to begin this holy Lenten journey.
This holy season begins in a positive way with God reaching out,
picking us up, and saying:
“You are my son, you are my daughter, in you I am delighted.”
Our Lent course this year is entitled:
“Praying a Mantra in Daily Life”
I first began praying a mantra around 40 years ago. I was 20 years old and I had only recently moved to London from my Yorkshire village to study at the Church Army Training College, which was then at Blackheath. Up to that point I had a very narrow experience of Christianity and religion in general, and was enjoying experiencing the greater breadth of spiritual traditions that was to be found in a big city. I became drawn to meditation, which I had read about and assumed at that time to be a “Buddhist thing”. So when I was on placement in Bethnal Green and was introduced to some Buddhists monks there I decided to ask one of them for advice and guidance in meditation. One of the first things this monk pointed out to me was that meditation was as much a part of the Christian tradition as it was the Buddhist, and he introduced me to what is known as the Jesus Prayer; a Christian mantra that is often used as a basis of meditation. There will be more about this prayer in some of the reflections that follow during the Lenten season. I also discovered that its use was not limited to sitting down for periods of time to meditate, but was also a prayer that could be used throughout the day as we go about our ordinary everyday lives. And it is in this context that I mainly write about the use of a mantra in the following reflections.
I have, over the years, discovered the powerful effect of praying mantra in the course of everyday living, and during this Lent course I will share with you something of what I have experienced in using this form of prayer, and the how valuable I have found it in my life. The beauty of praying with a mantra is that it is simple and straight forward, and that it connects our daily lives with our daily prayers. I hope that you will also experience its value and simplicity and take time this Lent to try it out in your own lives and spiritual practice.
There is a reflection for every day during Lent up to the beginning of Holy Week, and I invite you to join me on this holy journey. Each day is just a short reflection will only take a few minutes to read, though, I am discovering, a whole life time to fully absorb.
Additionally, there will be some reflections on using a mantra in Meditation.
I hope you will join us on this Lenten journey.
Gavin Berriman Vicar at St Augustine’s, Grove Park.