Resources for Reflection and Growth this Lent
Posted March 1, 2022
The Book of Common Prayer invites us to a Holy Lent on Ash Wednesday:
“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” - BCP 264
As you plan your own practices for Lent, you may find support in some resources in the Book of Common Prayer too. I recommend the Litany of Penitence on page 267. We say the Litany on Ash Wednesday in Worship, and I recommend that you review the Litany once a week as a form of self-examination.
In the prayer we search out our character flaws, for example, “Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.” These wise confessions help us identify the patterns of sin in our lives so we can repent and turn to healthy spiritual patterns. Noticing my envy, I can confess it and set the intention of replacing it with a generous spirit whenever the envy arises. With God’s help, of course.
I also recommend our Baptismal Covenant on page 304. The first part of the Covenant is the Apostle’s Creed, our most concise summary of who God is. Please don’t skip the Creedal part! It describes the incomparable gift of God’s self-disclosure to us and the bond of unbreakable love God has made with us in Jesus Christ.
The vows which follow are our response to this gift. Because God is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, and because God has defeated sin through the Cross and Resurrection and formed an unbreakable bond with us, we respond with commitments. These commitments are a great tool for daily self-examination. How did I “seek and serve Christ in all persons” today? How did I "share the Good News of God in Christ" today? Self-examination leads to self-awareness, confession and amendment of life with the assistance of God’s grace and love.
The path of self-examination is meant to lead us into spiritual freedom; the capacity to respond to the challenges of life from the resources of Christ. What good news! In life, we so often react from our angers, resentments, hurts, frustrations, fears and anxieties. In Christ, we have a reservoir of new life, abundant life, that sets us free to replace our character flaws with the character of Christ.
One tool I personally use is something called the 8 C’s of Internal Family Systems. Richard Schwartz distills 8 virtues that flow when we are living from our God given soul: calmness, clarity, curiosity, compassion, confidence, courage, creativity, and connectedness. I check in on this list every day and take my spiritual temperature. How was I living from my soul today? How was I avoiding it? How can God’s love restore me to God’s loving intention for me? These are the questions of Lent. Thank you for joining me in the questions.
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
(215) 247-7466 ext. 101
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel (he/him) was educated at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained Priest in 1995 in Danville, Pennsylvania where he worked as a Hospital Chaplain and a Head Start teacher. Pastoral positions followed at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Flossmoor, Illinois, St. Paul and the Redeemer in Chicago, and then Rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. After following his wife, the Rev. Dr. Alison Boden, to her new position in Princeton, New Jersey, he was called to be the Executive Director of the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County. The largest food pantry and the gateway agency for Homelessness Prevention services in Mercer County, the Crisis Ministry also runs a Welfare to Work program and an innovative free farmers market. Jarrett became Rector of St. Martin’s in February 2011. He formerly served as the co-chair of Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER). Jarrett serves as Dean of the Wissahickon Deanery and is an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross. He is an Adjunct Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary where he co-teaches a regular class on Faith Based Community Organizing, Theology and Practice. Jarrett has been published in Sojourners, the Huffington Post, Yours the Power, and the Journal of Public Theology. He is the father of two children, Timothy and Martha.