Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Part 7 of series: Live Blogging Lent
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I doubt that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were thinking about Lent when they wrote: “With a Little Help From My Friends.” And I doubt Ringo Starr envisioned Lenten disciplines when he sang the song for the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But, the truth is, that our experience of Lent is enriched when we share it with friends.
To be sure, the support and partnership of Christian friends can help us in the fasting element of Lent. If someone knows of your commitment to give up something pleasurable for six weeks, that person can offer encouragement and accountability. Shared sacrifice can also help us when we are feeling tempted to abandon our fast.
Sharing Lent with others also impacts our experience besides fasting. For example, many churches host special Lenten Bible studies or worship services. These seasonal gatherings can draw our hearts to the Lord.
Last week I participated in a Lenten chapel service at the First Presbyterian Church of Kerrville, Texas, not far from the offices of Laity Lodge. The Friday noon service was simple, befitting the season, but it was not somber or gloomy. The Call to Worship based on Psalm 27 urged us to “Wait for the Lord!” The opening hymn, “My Song Is Love Unknown,” focused on the love of Christ: “Love to the loveless shown, That they might lovely be.” A moving solo of the contemporary song “Via Dolorosa” preceded my scripture reading of Philippians 3:17-4 and my short homily based on this text. (Photo: First Presbyterian Church of Kerrville, Texas.)
After the sermon, the congregation and I joined together in a stirring prayer. The bulletin explained that it was based on a fourteenth-century prayer know as Anima Christi (“Soul of Christ”). Here is that prayer:

Soul of Jesus, sanctify me.
Blood of Jesus, wash me.
Passion of Jesus, comfort me.
Wounds of Jesus, hide me.
Heart of Jesus, receive me.
Spirit of Jesus, enliven me.
Goodness of Jesus, pardon me.
Beauty of Jesus, draw me.
Humility of Jesus, humble me.
Peace of Jesus, pacify me.
Love of Jesus, inflame me.
Kingdom of Jesus, come to me.
Grace of Jesus, replenish me.
Mercy of Jesus, pity me.
Sanctity of Jesus, sanctify me.
Cross of Jesus, support me.
Nails of Jesus, hold me.
Mouth of Jesus, bless me.
Jesus, Son of God, save me. Amen.

The service concluded with the congregation singing the African-American spiritual: “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me,” followed by a benediction. Then, the worshipers gathered together for a simple lunch, a time of good food and conversation.
Last week, I “got by with a little help from my friends” at First Presbyterian in Kerrville Their chapel service reminded me of the most important Lenten friend all of. This friend is celebrated in the lyrics of “My Song is Love Unknown,” with which I close this post:

Christ came from heaven’s throne,
Salvation to bestow,
But people scorned and none,
The longed-for Christ would know.
But O my Friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need his life did spend.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine:
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
In whose sweet praise,
I all my days,
Could gladly spend.

(Verses 2 and 5 of “My Song is Love Unknown” by Samuel Crossman, 1664. public domain.)

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