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Whether we live in the church calendar which began on November 27 with Advent, or in the secular calendar of January 1, it is still time to reflect on last year and consider what we desire for the coming year. Why desire? Because the gospel leads us to rightly ordered love. New Year resolutions tend to emphasize discipline and will power, which is why they so often fail. Desire is at the core of following Jesus and at the core of what it means to be human. Like the psalmist, when we seek God often enough and long enough, our desire for God increases. The more we sit at his feet, the more we long to be with him.

As we begin this Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, (February 22) schedule some time apart to let your desire for Jesus emerge. You might consider coming to All Saints Lenten Guided Retreat on February 25 from 8:30–11:30am. We will begin with an opening prayer and then you will have time alone to pray, listen, and ponder scripture. Some retreat participants have said that it took them at least the first 45 minutes just to slow down and become quiet. Others have shared how Jesus met them, how their desires were clarified, and how peace emerged. So far, no one has said that it was a waste of time.

Also, you may have observed and heard that All Saints is very blessed by God in many ways, with delightful new people attending, generous funding for the new nave, many blessings on our church planting efforts, and all the faithful members who daily minister to each other and through their various callings. Thanks be to God. Throughout scripture and church history, prayer and fasting have been important ways to communicate our desires to God and to increase our capacity for stripping away what is controlling us. God wants to form rightly ordered desires within us. Wednesdays and Fridays are historically fast days for the church. This year we will continue our prayer and fasting on the first Wednesday of every month. So please note Wednesday, February 1, as well as Wednesday, March 1, and consider praying and fasting. We will have Morning prayer from 8:15–8:45am and also a noon eucharist from 12:00–12:30.

The Collect for Quiet Confidence (BCP p. 78) is a great prayer for centering us in God’s presence and for beginning a prayer and fasting day.

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.