• Trinity Voices

Ash Wednesday & Lent 2021

The Rev. Morgan Allen
February 10, 2021

Dear Trinity Church and friends,


Grace and Peace to you this snowy Tuesday. I hope this message finds you and yours well.


With a self-revelation packaging truth in the guise of good humor, I occasionally tease that I am “better” at Lent than Easter. On its surface, the idea seems ridiculous enough – ashes before oil, grief before joy, repentance before Resurrection … “No one would prefer that!” – that my acknowledgement usually draws a gentle laugh from a coffee hour. On cue at mid-chuckle, I will then credit my preference for Lent to my Roman Catholic roots, which can prompt another chortle - Oh, those Catholics and their guilt” - that unfair attribution Episcopalians too often indulge.


However, if I lean into the tenderness behind that laughter, I confront the admission that The Christian Hope, so-called, often seems to me unsatisfyingly fragile and far away. The task of believing in the “reconciliation of all people to God and to one another” seems like such a reach that I prefer hedging my Easter with continual repentance for our world’s sin – for my own sin. Keeping a more comfortable distance between myself and the reassurances of Beloved Community affords me cynicism’s cold comforts. I tell myself that nursing a functional despair guards my heart and (more realistically) lowers expectations of the Church’s responsibility to inaugurate God’s hopes: “Yessir, Saint Peter, those are ashes in my pocket, but I won’t bring any more than this small stash of sin into heaven – it’s only a reminder of my mortality, I promise.


Yet, this Lent feels different – immediately and forcefully, different.


I date the pandemic’s beginning to Wednesday, March 11. After several fraught days of planning how to make safer Trinity’s worship and programming for the upcoming Sunday, that night I arrived home late after a Vestry meeting. My wife and children were watching the Mavericks-Nuggets game when word started circulating on our phones and – live on television – throughout Dallas’ American Airlines Center that the NBA was postponing the season within hours.  Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban, stood gap-jawed from his seat as the news hit his handheld device, and, with that heavy domino falling, the postponements and cancellations started. By Friday, we at Trinity Church would close our offices and suspend in-person worship. So it began and, in so many ways, so it still is.


That Sunday, March 15, 2020, was to be the third Sunday of Lent, and this upcoming Sunday, February 14, 2021, feels more like the fiftieth Sunday of “self-examination and repentance … prayer, fasting, and self-denial” than the Sunday of the Transfiguration, last Epiphany, or Valentine’s Day. Living in all these ashes for this long, I am aching for some Easter: “Mr. Peter, I didn’t mean it about those ashes: if you will point me to the light and the life, I want to leave all this death behind!


Mindful of this weariness and this readiness – in our parish and in our world – we at Trinity Church now approach a different kind of Lent, a season that seeks to emphasize our preparation for Resurrection with hope and expectation, rather than in guilt and regret. Indeed, as Bill has written for our Ash Wednesday worship, “Our word, ‘Lent’ comes from our ancestors, whose Old English word lencten meant ‘springtime,’ and referred to its lengthening of days.” Thereby, we will spend these forty days growing together in Spirit, Truth, and Love.


Our “Growing In Spirit” will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 17. To keep our community healthy and whole, we must forego the in-person imposition of ashes. While grieving this loss, the necessity also provides a creative opportunity, and we invite you to re-imagine the beginning of Lent with the planting of a seed in a pot of soil, rather than with the marking of our foreheads.


At our worship on this day – a liturgy “premiered” via Facebook at 7:30 a.m, with Zoom gatherings to follow at 12:10 and 5:45 p.m – we will plant seeds together as part of our prayers. If you are not able to obtain seed or soil, please email Director of the Rector's Office, Alison Poor, by this Friday, February 12, and we will do our best to get those to you by Ash Wednesday. More details about other Lenten worship opportunities may be found below.


“Growing In Truth,” we will share rich formation experiences every week, and we collect our Sunday Forums under the common theme, “Art At The Intersection of Faith And Justice.” These presentations will begin on February 21 with Arreon Harley-Emerson, the second of our three Anne Berry Bonnyman Symposium Forum speakers, who will explore music, tradition, and anti-racism in the sounds of our worship life. We will also welcome three Price Lecturers across two events: first, on March 7, Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs, a visual artist and organizer who has been transforming the cultural landscape of Boston through graffiti art since 1991, and, on March 21, Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and her father, Dr. Don Saliers, Theologian-In-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. More details about these and our other Christian education opportunities may be found below.


“Growing In Love” we will share meaningful community experiences throughout the season. These will begin on Mardi Gras, Tuesday, February 16, with a larder-emptying pancake feast of good fun and food, and continue with our Annual Parish Meeting on Sunday, February 28. We hope, too, that you will make our Lenten Reflections part of your daily devotions. This program will offer opportunity for engagement with ideas and images of the season (including our plantings), as well as with other members of the broader Trinity community. Once more, more details about these and our other community-building opportunities may be found below.


Finally, I note that what we plant on Ash Wednesday will take time to grow. At first, that growth will remain unseen, and I can already feel the temptation for me to lower my expectations, to reach for the familiarity of cold comforts: anxiety, cynicism, commiseration. Oh, let us resist together such functional despairing! And, instead, let us dare together the hope of that joyful Resurrection for which we ready.


Toward Easter,






Tuesday, February 16

6 p.m.

Shrove Tuesday Zoom Pancakes 

Join fellow parishioners for a time of fun and fellowship as we gather to “clean out the larder” in preparation for Lent.

Find more information here.


Wednesday, February 17 – Saturday, April 3

Daily Lenten Reflections

Much like our daily calendar videos during Advent, we will have a new message from a different parishioner each morning (except Sundays) during the forty days of Lent. If you would like to help film one of our daily messages, please email Paige Fisher at pfisher@trinitychurchboston.org.



Sunday, February 28

11 a.m.

Annual Parish Meeting

Join us on Zoom for the 2021 Annual Parish Meeting, when we will elect new officers, Vestry members, and diocesan delegates; and hear reports on our 2020 and 2021 budgets and ministries.

Find more information here.


Sundays, February 21, March 7 – March 21

11 a.m.

Community Hour

Join us on Zoom where we will break out into small groups for prompted conversation.

Find more information here.





Ash Wednesday, February 17  

7:30 a.m. / 12:10 p.m.  / 5:45 p.m.

Ash Wednesday

Join us in Ash Wednesday worship as we re-imagine the beginning of Lent with the planting of a seed in a pot of soil, rather than with the marking of our foreheads.

Find more information here.


Sunday, February 21

9:45 a.m.

Morning Prayer, Rite II, with The Great Litany

As we look together into the coming months, both into Lent and Easter and into new life beyond the constraints of pandemic, how might the image of "transfiguration" guide us forward as God's people? Worship with us on our website or on Facebook


Wednesdays, February 24 – March 24

8:15 a.m.

Lenten Meditations

Join the Rev. Dr. Karen Coleman for fifteen minutes of quiet and reflection during this Lenten season.

Find more information here.


5:45 p.m.

Weekly Evensong

Join the Trinity Choristers for weekly Evensong at 5:45 pm.

Find more information here.


Weeknights, February 17 – April 2

8:30 p.m.


Join us weeknights at 8:30 pm for Compline, the last of the four services in the Daily Office.

Find more information here.


Saturday, March 6

9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Quiet Morning: Wisdom in Pandemic-Tide

Lady Julian of Norwich has particular wisdom for our time of pandemic, because she herself lived through the plague that struck her city repeatedly in the 15th century. A quiet morning of guided meditations, quiet time off Zoom, music, art, and conversation. More details to come.


Sundays, February 28 – March 21

9:45 a.m.

Morning Prayer, Rite II

Worship with us on our website or on Facebook.


Sing! Trinity

Sing with us! Lent is the perfect time for new faces and voices in the mix. No musical background necessary!⁠ ⁠Find more information here.



Sunday, February 21

4 p.m.

ABBS Forum: Total Praise: The Promise and Power of Anti-Racism with Arreon Harley-Emerson

Our Bonnyman Forums this year explore our life in church through considerations of space, sound, and Spirit – and in this second of three forums our guest, Arreon Harley-Emerson, will explore music, tradition, and anti-racism.

Find more information here.


Sunday, February 28

4 p.m.

Forum: We Are What We See

With feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” as a primary text, Morgan and one of his oldest friends will consider how film as a form informs our ideas about the world.

Find more information here.


Sunday, March 7

4 p.m.

Price Lecture: Grow On Flow On: A Conversation with ProBlak

For ProBlak, graffiti acts as a contemporary form of hieroglyphs, a way to document and pay homage to underserved, underheard communities in the city. His vision- to beautify the predominantly black and brown communities of Boston- is a driving force behind his artistic practice. Find more information here.


Sunday, March 14

4 p.m.

Forum: Hunger Games and the Tyranny of Merit 

What makes The Hunger Games an implicitly religious work, and what are the messages of its hugely popular serialization for 21st century Christians?

Find more information here.


Sunday, March 21

4 p.m.

Price Lecture: A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Conversation and Music with Emily and Don Saliers

Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, and her father, Dr. Don Saliers, Theologian-In-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology will talk about music as a spiritual practice, and about the power of music to amplify healing, grief, delight, and justice.

Find more information here.