Lent is early this year, which means that next Wednesday – Valentine’s Day! – we will be commencing a 40-day period of “self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God,” as our liturgy puts it. God willing, it will be a season of spiritual renewal for all of us as we prepare for the events of Holy Week and the triumph of Easter.
But in concert with this, the Diocese of Toronto is embarking on an even longer, particularly intentional Season of Spiritual Renewal – and I invite you to enter into this one also. I introduced it at our Synod in November and have written about it a few times. As the College of Bishops mentions in our annual Letter to Vestries, we hope that every parish, ministry, small group and individual will make their plans and decisions for the coming year using a lens of spiritual renewal: how are we being called to deepen our relationship with Christ? Where is the Holy Spirit trying to breathe new life into dry bones? (Ezekiel 37) As you consider your worship, your events and your programs for the coming year – parish retreats, Christian education, VBS, Bible studies, book clubs, etc. – what can you do to re-centre Jesus Christ as the heart of your activities, and to open yourself to a richer, fuller, experience of the Triune God?
Here is a video about the Season of Spiritual Renewal that I ask you to share widely. You may want to show it at your vestry or advisory board meeting, or at your Lenten study group, and start to think about how you and your church family will engage with the Season of Spiritual Renewal.
You can also download the video to your own computer.
I know that God is pining to refresh our Church, and we have heard through the Cast the Net consultation process that we in the Diocese of Toronto are wanting to respond to that desire. Let us begin this work together by observing a holy Lent.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto