Lent in Lockdown

Please Believe These Days Will Pass – Southwark Cathedral

It’s Shrove Tuesday today, time to clear out the cupboards and prepare for a season of Lent in lockdown, and all the promise of the resurrection to come.

Most of our cathedrals have taken their Ash Wednesday services online and all are offering imaginative and inspiring Lent programmes for 2021 and reminding people that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called us to pray for the nation together every day.

Southwark has just announced that its much anticipated annual Lent Art installation for 2021 is Please Believe These Days Will Pass by 2006 Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner.

While the art works will not be on display until 2 June due to the pandemic, this theme will inform Southwark’s Lenten programme, Journey through the Wilderness.

York Minster will explore what it means to live out Christ’s story in new and traditional ways as they invite people to journey with Jesus and open themselves up to a new way of living.

Canon Vicky Johnson, Precentor at York Minster said:

“This time of preparation will be observed in new as well as in traditional ways. There will be online worship, music and stillness, prayer and study. Through it all we will explore what it means to live Christ’s story. Wherever you are on your journey of faith, we hope you will live out this story with us.”

Their programme includes an online pilgrimage around the stations created by students from St Peter’s School, York which will also be accompanied by a Bible reading, a piece of music, a short reflection and a prayer.

The videos will be available on York’s YouTube channel.

More on their website here.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds is offering a rich programme of online talks, musical reflections, services and discussion groups on the theme of Radical Faith with an inspirational line up of speakers – including an anarchist feminist devoted to helping the poor, stories of priests who stood up to fascism and reflections on modern martyr, Archbishop Janani Luwum, the Archbishop of Uganda.

Canon Matthew Vernon, Sub Dean and Canon Pastor said: “In these challenging times, we are reminded of the difficulties which many people of faith have endured in many different circumstances.

“Lent is a time to reflect more deeply on our faith journey. This year, as we do this from the isolation of our homes, we may gain fresh insights and inspiration.”

Full details can be found on the Cathedral website.

Lincoln Cathedral has announced that public services will resume on Ash Wednesday with a traditional “Ashing” service – though ashes will be sprinkled this year to comply with coronavirus regulations and maintain social distancing.

Lincoln Cathedral’s Lent programme includes short addresses on key texts from the Bible supplemented by online discussion groups. Its Lent Course, Women in the Shadows, will focus on the ways women and girls are exploited in the UK today and was created by the Clewer Initiative, which is committed to combatting modern slavery.

Worshippers will now be able to join daily services of Morning Prayer and Eucharist in person, as well as evening prayer on Monday Wednesday and Saturday.
Evensong services on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays will be available online only – all services will follow strict Covid guidelines.

A special Eucharist service on Ash Wednesday will also take place in Chichester Cathedral with the traditional ashes sprinkled over those who wish to receive it, in line with Government guidance.

Chichester’s online Lent Lectures will explore several challenging questions for our time: What will life after COVID be like? What can we hope for? What values will shape the “New Normal”? and will be presented by Canon Dr Peter Sills and are based on his book Light in the Darkness.

There will be no ashing, but Christ Church Oxford has announced it will be open for private prayer and reflection this Ash Wednesday in adherence with latest Covid safety guidelines. There will be livestreamed services during the day and prayers on the hour too.

This Saturday (20 Feb) it will host the first one-day Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature. The theme is Light in Darkness and speakers include novelists Francis Spufford, Rachel Mann and Katharine Tiernan, priest and poet Mark Oakley, and the Dean of King’s College Cambridge, Stephen Cherry. Tickets are available online.

Christ Church’s Lent Study Group, Open House, highlights the Cathedral’s unique joint foundation by bringing some of the academics to talk about their work. These will be streamed on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel.

The Revd Philippa White, Cathedral Precentor, said:

“In Lent, we remember Jesus in the wilderness, encountering God at the beginning of his ministry. By tradition, we join with that experience through ‘giving up,’ simplicity, and spiritual discipline.

“After a year of pandemic restrictions, our worship is already simplified and we feel the loss of many things we might not have chosen to give up. We may already feel as if we are in the wilderness.

“Perhaps this year we should commit to spending gentle time with God. Our Archbishops have called us to pray for the nation. We will continue to do that at the Cathedral and invite you to join the whole Church of England in that prayer, through Lent and beyond,’ she said.

Gloucester Cathedral will post a daily Lenten reflection on their social media inspired by their stained glass windows and other treasures from the building, and these will include a reflection from a member of their clergy. A weekly Lent discussion will also take place on Zoom.

Please visit each cathedral’s website to find out how they are marking Lent this year and how you can be part of it.