The Bishop of Ripon, Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley, has launched the first of series of Lent prayer times which are taking place each Saturday at a different cathedral or church led by one of our six bishops in turn.
There was an open invitation to drop in to Ripon Cathedral and join Bishop Helen-Ann at any time during the five hours of prayer from 10am until 3pm. Silent prayer and meditation was punctuated on the hour with a simple liturgical prayer service for everyone who came to join in.
"The Diocesan Vision ‘Loving. Living. Learning’ begins in prayer, and this year, the six bishops decided that we needed to model that in a visible way." said Bishop Helen-Ann. "By locating ourselves one Saturday each during Lent in places of worship throughout the Diocese, we are inviting others to join us, even if for a short time, to pray with us for our common life together.
"Prayer is not an end in itself of course, it leads to action and a constant search for peace and justice. We hope that the pattern of prayer which we commit to this Lent will be an ongoing sign of our commitment to love, live and learn together."
She added, "Spending several hours in prayer in Ripon Cathedral was an immense privilege, and it was wonderful to see so many people coming and going during the day sharing in silent prayer, and then on the hour in the short liturgy from the Northumbria Community.
" As the light waxed and waned through the day, I became profoundly aware of the pattern of the hours, and of God’s mysterious yet tangible presence breaking through. A day of rich blessings, insights and a sense of gratitude for the life of this whole Diocese."
Over the next five Saturday’s further prayer times will be held across the diocese and all are welcome to go along for any length of time and join with the bishops:
- Saturday 24th February,, Bishop Paul Slater, 10.00am—3.00pm, Leeds Minster
- Saturday 3rd March, Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, 10.00am - 12noon, Halifax Minster; 1.00pm-3.00pm Dewsbury Minster
- Saturday 10th March, Bishop Toby Howarth, 10.00am—3.00pm, Bradford Cathedral
- Saturday 17th March, Bishop Tony Robinson, 10.00am—3.00pm, Wakefield Cathedral
- Saturday 24th March, Bishop Nick Baines, 10.00am—3.00pm. Holy Trinity, Skipton
The prayer times are part of an open invitation issued to all parishes by the bishops, to join them for ‘a Holy Lent of Loving. Living. Learning’. The Lent project reflects the diocesan vision and invites Christians to explore what ‘Loving, Living, Learning’ means to them through daily prayer, Bible reading, fasting and meditation.
Accompanying the Lent project is a four page leaflet with a prayer to be used each day, thoughts on living out the diocesan values statement, together with the times of Saturday prayer being led by the bishops. Leaflets are available from Area Bishops and Area Deans for every church, or you can read and download the leaflet here.
Bishop Nick said: “This is an invitation to share with others in prayer during Lent to bring us together as a Diocesan family. This is not meant to replace any Lenten project in your church but to supplement it and help us focus on what and who we are here in the Diocese of Leeds."
The bishops have written a prayer for Lent which they invite people to join in each day:
“Lord God, through Lent, open our eyes to see all the right and wrong that we have done.
“Help us in our loving of one another, to make good decisions, to be strong and not give up.
“Stir us, strengthen us, teach and inspire us to both learn and live the Gospel with generosity and joy, imagination and courage for the sake of your world and in the name of Jesus. Amen”