For Lent, the Seven Heavenly Virtues

A Special Message from Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston

Forty days. Rain fell on Noah for forty days and forty nights. For forty days, Moses camped on Mount Sinai—speaking with God and writing down the law. Jesus spent forty days fasting and praying in the wilderness.

Forty days. That’s how long it takes, in Bible speak, to take stock of your life, to get your spiritual bearings, to start on a new path.

Lent lasts for forty days. Many Christians approach Lent as a time of deprivation. They give up (or try to give up) chocolate, alcohol, or (ouch!) caffeine. Curiously, though, the roots of this spiritual season point in another direction.

From its earliest observance, Lent has been time set aside for Christians to take on the spiritual disciplines. Lent invites us to lean into self-reflection and study, service and prayer. This Lent at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, we are going to focus our self-reflection and study on virtue—specifically on the seven heavenly virtues: prudence, justice, courage, temperance, faith, hope and love.

We will study each virtue in turn. What do Jesus and the prophets have to say? Why are some virtues easier for us, while others seem so doggone hard? Why are the classic virtues still relevant in the modern world?

We will also do our best to let the virtues guide our steps and govern our behavior. It is Lent, after all. We should take something on!

Our Lenten sermon series, Got Virtue?, starts on Ash Wednesday, March 1. It continues for the six weeks of Lent, concluding on Easter. You will find details on our worship calendar.

To further prepare ourselves for Holy Week and Easter, FAPC also offers the 2017 Lenten Devotional, including Scripture passages, selected poetry, words of prayer and personal stories of faith for each of the 40 days of Lent. Printed copies of the Devotional will be available at the church on Ash Wednesday. (Supplies are limited!) Each day's devotional also will be posted online at You may also receive the daily devotionals via email (click here). Please note: If you received these daily emails last year, you don't have to sign up again. We'll keep you on the list!

On April 7, as we approach Holy Week, the FAPC Chamber Choir and Orchestra will present our annual Lenten concert. This year the concert features two masterworks of 20th-century sacred music: Maurice Duruflé's sublime Requiem, and the ravishing a capella Mass for double choir by the Swiss composer Frank Martin. The evening will strengthen your soul for the journey to Jerusalem. Read more about the Lenten concert (and purchase tickets) here.

We have forty days, my friends. What do you say? Will you join us?

See you in worship,

Tags: lent

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