2024 APA Lenten Devotional

     It was not many years after Jesus Christ ascended into heaven that the earliest Christians made a special effort to acknowledge the anniversary of the death and resurrection of our Lord by hallowing the feast of Pascha with this new significance. It was not long after the custom of observing this anniversary was established that the followers of Christ discerned it would be fitting to use the weeks leading up to that great feast as a time of penitential preparation.  
     
     Many centuries later, the forty days of Lent leading up to Easter have retained their original purpose of readying the faithful for a joyous and holy Paschal feast. The season of Lent continues to offer Christians an opportunity to walk with Christ in the desert, to absorb the narrative of His passion, to wonder at the institution of the Holy Eucharist, to sense anew the sorrow and confusion of the first Good Friday, and to appreciate again the resurrection fire of Christ newly lit in the dark cavern of death. In short, the time of Lent is meant to be a purposeful communal fasting before the glorious and joyful season of resurrection feasting.  
     
     For the last few years, those ordained or called to care for the parishioners of the APA Deanery of Appalachia have worked together to compose a Lenten Devotional to enhance the experience of Lent for those who read its pages in these 40 days leading up to Easter. This year, Bishops, Rectors, Vicars, Curates, and other guests of the APA have been invited to compose meditations as well.  
   
     Each day, scriptural passages assigned for Morning or Evening Prayer in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer lectionary supply the biblical material these meditations are drawn from as the writings are meant to enhance the discipline of praying the daily offices.  
     
     Devotional compositions offered for the Sundays of Lent are taken from homilies of various Church Fathers and apply to the Gospel selection of the Order for Holy Communion. On these days, Anglican faithful will hopefully find it edifying to hear both a sermon on the passage from their Rector, and then to consider those thoughts along with the thoughts of one of the great theologians of the Patristic era.
     
     It is my prayer that, when the great feast of Easter finally arrives, those who use this devotional could say that something within these pages served to keep them focused on Christ in the midst of their fast. May your Lenten season be one of repentance, prayer, and earnest meditation on Christ so that you, with the whole Church, may enjoy a joyful, holy, and glorious Easter feast!  

Father Paul Rivard 
Dean of Appalachia, Anglican Province of America
Rector of Saint George the Martyr Anglican Church, Simpsonville, SC