Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The holy season of Lent is soon upon us. The invitation to its devout observance as set forth in the Ash Wednesday liturgy gives prominence to “reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” I am convinced that all other spiritual practices and observances find their surest foundation in the plain words of Holy Scripture.
One of the main goals of the English reformers was to make the Bible in the English language accessible to every person. A cornerstone of Anglican Spirituality for the past four and a half centuries has been the provision for ordinary people to read the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. Those who pray the Daily Office regularly know what a gift it is and how the Lord can speak to us through this invaluable spiritual discipline.
During the recent Diocesan Parish Leadership Conferences, Whitney Kuniholm, President of Scripture Union U.S.A., introduced to the clergy and people attending the PLC’s another means of being fed and nourished by God’s Word through the E-100 initiative. It’s a simple method of reading and meditating on 100 of the most important or essential passages of the Old and New Testament (50 from each) which help provide the ‘big picture’ of the story of salvation. God’s love and our neglect is a repeating cycle. The E-100 passages help open the door for God through Holy Scripture to directly enter into our minds, our memories and our hearts, reminding us of His love and commitment to our welfare and salvation.
As Ash Wednesday approaches, ushering in the season of Lent, I encourage you to take part in your parish Lenten programs, to attend church every Sunday, to engage in Lenten devotions such as the Stations of the Cross, to fast and to pray. I especially encourage you to begin the E-100 on Ash Wednesday, and to faithfully follow it as a family or individually. Copies have been given to every Parish in the Diocese. If you begin now, you will complete the E-100 by Pentecost. It takes only a few minutes a day- far less than the news, the soaps, facebook a telephone chat or a nap. Many of our parishes are taking the E-100 Challenge as a parish family. Please give it a try. In so doing, may the Lord bless you richly as you grow ever closer to Him through His holy Word.
The Letter to the Hebrews (4:12-13) reminds us that “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”
My prayer for each of us this Lent is that the Word of God will actively penetrate our heart and mind, that we might be transformed, and that God can then use us to transform His world.
Your brother in Christ this holy Lent,
–(The Rt. Rev.) Bill Love is Bishop of Albany