Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Keeping a Devout and Holy Lent . . . by Bishop Jack Iker

One of the contemporary heroes of orthodoxy among Anglican leaders is the Rt Rev’d Jack Iker, Third Bishop of Fort Worth. We continue to pray for Bishop Iker and his diocese as they witness to the Gospel and the Faith once delivered to the saints. The following is his Ash Wednesday message, released this morning: 

Today we begin a spiritual journey together called Lent. It is a pilgrimage that we will pursue for the next six weeks. It begins in ashes and penitence; it will end in alleluias and Easter joy.  It begins with a somber reminder of our mortality; it will end with a joyous celebration of our immortality in Jesus Christ. Ash Wednesday reminds us of what we deserve in our sinfulness – judgment and death. Easter reminds us of God’s gracious gift to us in Jesus Christ – forgiveness and new life in Him.

As with any journey, there is a certain amount of uncertainty about what lies ahead. None of us can know for certain what we must undergo in the weeks ahead – what temptations or tragedies we must endure, or what challenges and opportunities await us. Life is unpredictable and fragile.  Sometimes the journey becomes dangerous and difficult in unexpected ways.

In our Christian pilgrimage, Lent reminds us that we must choose many times a day. Life involves continual decisions and choices, which determine which way we will go. We must make decisions every day about what we will do and about what we will not do. We must do the right thing, and we must avoid the wrong thing. The path we choose in the days ahead, in little things and in great things, will either lead us closer to God or more distant from Him.

To strengthen and guide us in what lies ahead, the Church calls upon each of us to adopt a Lenten Rule of Life – a discipline we will live by for the next six weeks. It will help us keep a devout and holy Lent. It involves taking on certain specific things and giving up certain other things in order to strengthen our will power, to co-operate with God’s power. It is a choice to simplify our lives and to pursue such things on a day to day basis, which, in the end, will bring us closer to God and to His will for our lives.

As with any journey, we will need food and drink to nourish and sustain us along the way. So a Lenten Rule may involve receiving Holy Communion more often than usual, perhaps coming to a weekday Communion service in addition to our Sunday worship. Surely we will want to read and study the Holy Scriptures more diligently than usual, feeding daily on God’s Word as our daily bread. Surely we will want to practice the three spiritual disciplines which Jesus himself practiced and commended to His disciples – fasting, prayer and almsgiving. All these things will help us and guide us in our Lenten journey.

Lord, give us the gift of holy discipline this Lent, that by your grace, we may do those things we ought to do and avoid those things that are harmful to us and our relationship with you. Save us from all wrong choices, and enable us by your Spirit to please you in word and deed, through Jesus Christ who saves us. Amen.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Bishop Iker is one of my heroes. May God bless him and all who serve with him in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Bishop Iker said, "Surely we will want to read and study the Holy Scriptures more diligently than usual, feeding daily on God’s Word as our daily bread." Amen!

A friend recently commented that the girls in her Sunday School class only wanted to talk about contemporary issues. They didn't want to study the Bible. She said they wouldn't even do "casual" Bible study, to which I replied, "That might be the problem. The Bible should never be studied casually."

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