The Anglican Orthodox Church International Inc. sm

 FOUNDER; The Most Rev. James Parker Dees, A.B., B.D., D.D., •FOUNDED: November 16, 1963
2228 Wilkesvoro Hwy. PO Box 128, Statesville, NC  28687

February, 14, 2024

From the desk of Bishop Hap Arnold, Coadjutor, Anglican Orthodox Church

 Ash Wednesday and Lent

Lent is coming up, it starts this coming Wednesday, (February 14,2024) called Ash Wednesday.  So, what does the word Lent mean?  It has an obscure origin, and is probably a corruption of Lencten, or a similar term in ancient Anglo, Saxon, and Germanic languages, all of which referred to spring, new life, and hope.  Although it is generally considered to be a time of mourning and repentance, it is more than that, it is like death, a time of new life and hope because by means of the death of Christ, we receive new life.

Many avoid Lent and Holy Week because they think it isn’t a happy and uplifting time—but to be honest, neither is most of life. Sometimes we come to church all scrubbed up, dressed nicely, with smiles on our faces, and when people ask how we are, we reply that everything is fine and we even boast how wonderful things are—but is it?

Life is not always uplifting, or wonderful, or pleasant, or joyous.  To claim it is, is to miss the whole point of the incarnation! God became flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus faced temptation, He suffered hunger and thirst, He suffered the agony of crucifixion. Jesus our God did not face these things so that we would be exempt from them, He faced these things so that we would have dignity in them, He faced these things that in Him we might have triumph.

The forty days commemorate the significant “forty” periods in Scripture (although forty is not always significant), including the forty years the Jews wandered in the desert after they had been rescued by God from Egypt, and which did not end until they repented. Jonah preached to Nineveh that God’s judgment would come on them in forty days. During that time the people repented and thus were spared God’s judgment. Jesus was tested by the Devil in the desert for forty days before He began His public ministry, announcing salvation to the repentant and judgment to those who continued to rebel against God. Jesus prophesied that God’s judgment would come against Israel for rejecting Him as Messiah within the time of His own generation (Matt. 24; Luke 21; Mark 13). Within forty years of His death, burial, and resurrection, Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple was so ravaged that “not one stone [was] left here upon another” (Matt. 24:2). The Jewish Christians, however, escaped this judgment of God by fleeing to Pella before the final Roman siege, just as Jesus had warned them to do (Matt. 24:16-21).

Lent is a time for Christians to contemplate their sinfulness, repent, ask God’s forgiveness, and realize the infinite sacrifice God made on their behalf. It is to be a time of quiet contemplation, but not a time of despair, since it culminates in the commemoration of the resurrection. Traditionally, those who are joining the church spend this period in special instruction regarding Christian doctrine, practice, and responsibility. Historically, prospective members (“catechumens”) did not participate in the Lord’s Supper portion of the Sunday services until they were received into full membership on the Sunday of the Resurrection of Our Lord. For them, this first experience of Ash Wednesday and Lent has special significance as God’s eternal plan of salvation is applied to them personally.

When Jesus taught us how to pray, He didn’t say, “If you elect to pray, do it this way…” and when He taught about fasting, He didn’t say, “If you elect to fast, do it this way…”

He said, when you pray, don’t do it for show like the hypocrites do. It’s a conversation between you and God. And He gave us the Lord’s Prayer as an example of what we should pray about:

Address God

“Our Father, who art…”

Submit to God’s will

“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done…”

Ask for your physical needs

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

Ask for forgiveness

“Forgive us our trespasses…”

To the degree that you yourself are willing to forgive…

“As we forgive our trespassers…”

Ask for help with temptations

“Lead us not into temptation…”

And preservation from evil

“Deliver us from evil…”

Recognizing whose world this really is

“For thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever and ever.”

Similarly, Jesus told us that when we fast (not if) we are not to make a show of it, like hypocrites do. A fast is different from a hunger strike: a fast is a personal act of devotion to God, while a hunger strike is a public act most often used to shine a spotlight on injustice. A fast is also different from anorexia nervosa: it is disciplined diet, not total abstention from food. During a religious fast, you still eat, you just abstain from certain foodstuffs. Traditionally, people have fasted by eliminating luxury items from their diets, such as meats. A fast can consist of eating whatever you want, but drinking only water.

More positively, you can fast in other areas beyond food, you can commit to a something that can benefit the church, such cutting back in an entertainment area, using that time for Bible study and donating the savings to the church.

On Palm Sunday, there were crowds who cheered Jesus as the King, but where were all those fair-weather friends when Jesus prayed in agony on Gethsemane, and where were they when He hung upon the cross? Let us be bold to join Him, fasting in the wilderness for forty days during Lent; let us be bold to pray with Him in the garden on Maundy Thursday, let us fearlessly stand at the foot of His cross on Good Friday, so that we may witness His Resurrection and His Ascension, and join in His triumphant reign.

Mite Boxes

If you read this report at all, you know the Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC), and this parish in particular, is not about money.  Not that money is not useful, but our parish has plenty for what we need and we know the difference between need and want.  Any extra we get; we send it to the AOC to use for their mission work.  The AOC works on a very slim budget, they aren’t about money either.  The AOC is about the Great Commission; to go forth and spread The Word of the Lord:

18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ‘…19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

You may not realize it, but the AOC has national church affiliates in twenty-three countries around the world, that does take a little money.  Not great quantities of money, but some and as a church, we would be dirt poor, if we had dirt.

So, that is where the Mite Boxes come in.  Ash Wednesday is 14 February 2024; Easter Sunday is 31 March 2024.  That period is Lent.  Often thought of as a time for fasting, it is more importantly a time to channel your attention towards God.  A time to let your heart open to the Holy Ghost that you might come closer to God and perhaps do His Work more effectively.

So, to exercise this concept, we are asking you to cut back.  We know the economy is not really great and you are probably cutting back already.  So, cut back a bit more.  Drink water instead of soda, or two entrees instead of three.  Take part of your savings every day and put it in the Mite Box.  If you did not cut back on a given day, dig into your wallet or purse and cut out a bit of cash for the Mite Box anyway.  Every day, except Sundays.  Sundays are the Lord’s Day and a day of celebration.  They are not part of Lent.  By Easter Sunday, you will have a full Mite Box.  Bring it to church, this church, another church, which church is not really important, but on Easter Sunday, you should worship the Lord.  If you cannot find a church to actually go to on Easter, you probably aren’t looking hard enough; but pull the money out and send us a check, payable to the Anglican Orthodox Church and we will send it on.

One box for each member of the family, one box for the family, whatever works for you.  This is not about the money; it is about growing in faith.  A little bit, just a mite, every day.  Every day, miss none.  Every day, everybody in the family can do just a little bit.  When you drop your daily contribution in, think, “Did I do what I could today for the Lord?  Did I fall short or meet the standard?  Can I do better tomorrow?  Will I?”  It should be a time of reflection.  It will be if you do it.

By the way, what is a Mite Box?  Named after the smallest of Roman coins, a normal wage of the time being ten mites per hour, of which two were donated by the widow,  And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:41-44, KJV). You can also read about it in Luke 21:1-4, Today it is normally a small cardboard box, say three inches in each dimension, a cube piggy bank so to speak.  If you don’t have one, call, email or write.  We have a pile of them.

Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to the Lord’s Work and make your life better at the same time.

Bishop Hap Arnold, Coadjutor Anglican Orthodox Church
International, Inc.

                                                      (704) 873-8365

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