March 8, 2020 – The Second Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust of power, and idle talk.  But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen

(The Lenten Prayer of ST. Isaac the Syrian)

Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

This week’s sermon


One of the emphases in this season of Lent is “ the message of pardon and absolution contained in the Gospel of our Savior.” (Book of Common Prayer p. 612), which is the impetus behind some changes to the liturgy in Lent. We begin with  The Lent Prose, as it is called in English, which is plainsong responsory  known in Latin by the first words, Attende Domini, ‘ Hear us O Lord.” It derives originally from the Mozarabic liturgy, used by Christians living under Arabic rule in Medieval Spain. The Lenten Anthem, taken from the Penitential Service in the Book of Common Prayer, replaces the Gloria at the end of our service, and contains a prayer that we might come to the celebration of Easter with a “pure conscience.”

How do we translate that which we celebrate in the liturgy, the forgiveness of sins, into daily life, that we might become not only forgiven sinners, but forgiving sinners? Fr. Stephen Freeman writes,

1. Begin by struggling to form the habit of forgiveness in the smallest things. With a child, with traffic, with little irritations. Do not struggle in a small way but throw yourself into forgiveness. It should become a habit, but a habit of grace.

2. Use this prayer for the enemies who seem to be beyond your ability to pray: “O God, at the dread judgment, do not condemn them for my sake.” This places forgiveness at a distance and even a hard heart can often manage the small prayer of forgiveness at such a distance.

3. Be always aware of your own failings and constantly ask for God’s forgiveness. “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

4. As much as possible cultivate in your heart the understanding that all human beings are broken and victims of the fall. 

5. Make a life confession at least once a year – being careful to name as many resentments as you can remember.