Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lent and Special Devotions

As heirs of the so-called magisterial or moderate Reformation, Anglicans have retained the basics of the church calendar including Lent. We have seen Lent as a useful tradition to encourage repentance, voluntary devotion, and preparation for Easter. At the same time, in Articles of Religion XI, XII, XIV, and XXXIV, Anglicanism has also stressed Christian freedom with regard to human works and traditions. While the Prayer Book has provided general rules about observing Lent since 1662, traditions about fasting, penitence and special devotions must not become legalistic. Such things cannot make us righteous before God. Human traditions cannot earn spiritual merit.

Anglicans and all Christians are called to live in Christian freedom, not as slaves to man-made rules. Christ Himself has the unique and infinite merit needed by all humanity, and through faith in Him, we are set right with God. Lent like every other observance is meant to call us to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ. Any special devotions we have during this season do not earn righteousness and must not obscure the work of Christ; they are merely external practices meant to recall us to the central truths of the Gospel.