Throughout our lives there are events that cause us to redirect our efforts in substantial ways. Whatever the precipitating event, the affect ripples out to all areas and nothing seems exempt. It may be a medical diagnosis that calls us to redefine our very meaning of what is important. It may be an event in the family that calls all members to re-orient financial priorities for the sake of the one. Or it may be an announcement that calls for a gathering of utter celebration. Whatever the cause, there is a motivation for things that have seemed fixed and non-negotiable to give way for a higher purpose. We dig in, scrimp and save, access otherwise unimagined resources to meet the task at hand. And when all is said and done, joy flows. We found ways to accomplish the impossible.
So it is with Lent. It is this strange time in the Church’s life cycle where we are called as a community to accomplish the impossible – to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter – the celebration of God’s ultimate triumph over sin and death.
It is the tradition of the Church to prepare our hearts during Lent in deliberate ways. The Book of Common Prayer instructs us to set aside the next 40 days for “self-examination and repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and the reading and meditating on God’s holy Word”.
I encourage you to pray and invite the Holy Spirit to instruct your heart in ways to live a Holy Lent. For some, fasting from some foods or indulgence and taking the resources from that choice and giving it to an agency that works to tend to the needs of the poor is a meaningful devotion. Spiritual disciplines might include participating in Stations of the Cross on the Fridays of Lent at 7:00pm. It would be appropriate this year to focus your scripture reading on St. Mark as it is at the heart of the Sunday gospel lessons for 2009. Lent is a time of self-examination and repentance. The church offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation (found on pgs. 447ff in the Book of Common Prayer) as a means of affirming God’s love and forgiveness in stories of pain. Some find “doing” a more meaningful devotion than “giving something up” for Lent. There are lots of volunteer opportunities both here at the Church and through local agencies. Help is always needed at River City Community Services, especially with their Empty Bowls program. (See http://www.rivercitycommunityservices.org/ for more information.)
Whatever you do, do something…and all for Love’s sake.
May you have a blessed and Holy Lent.
The Rev. Lynell Walker
Canon for Spiritual Formation