Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the annual remembrance of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to keep a season of penitence and fasting as the days of the Paschal Feast drew near. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those separated from the body of Christ were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of Christ’s Holy Church. In this way, the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need all Christians have to live continually in renewed repentance and faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of Christ and his Church, to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, deeds of mercy and self-denial; by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word; and by using God’s ordained means of grace. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979
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