“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”
~ Saint Teresa of Avila
On February 14th this year, we will be entering the season called Lent. Lent has a distinctive feel to it as compared with the rest of the church year. It is a little slower, a little quieter, a little more meditative. For those of you who are new to observing the church calendar or for those who know its patterns well, I wanted to give you a short introduction to the season we are about to enter. It happens to be one of my favorites as we take time to prepare for Easter.
The Purpose of the Season:
In the life of the Church, Lent is a journey into the depths of our souls – to the center of ourselves. It is a time of centering, a time of prayer, a time of searching to find the God who already inhabits our hearts. It is a period to take time to examine all that we are in the light of God. This peculiar season serves as our yearly invitation to come closer to God – to know God and be known by God. It is a time to prepare ourselves to journey once again to the place where death and resur-rection meet. Christ invites us into this season so that we might know new life and forgiveness.
The Shape of the Season:
Lent begins in ashes and ends in the silence of the tomb before Easter morning. The season of Lent is 40 days long, beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing to Holy Saturday. Sundays are not included in the forty-day count because Sundays are days of celebrating the Risen One, days of light, even within the valleys and darkness of Lent.
This season has a habit of leaving us in a much different place than it found us. The forty days of Lent is a time to wander deeply into our own wildernesses, to explore what we find there, and walk together for a while. This Lent we will be making a journey of stones. Inspired by the passages in scripture that talk about our Rock and our Redeemer, we will make our way together through this poignant season that culminates in the way to the cross and, finally, the empty tomb of Easter.
The Practices of the Season:
Lent invites us to know how completely God loves us, and to let go of all that would keep us from recognizing, receiving, and responding to that love. We are asked in this season to take on certain “spiritual disciplines” in order to move closer to God and the ground of our faith. Fasting is the most well-known Lenten spiritual discipline. We are to “give up” something that is not life-giving: a bad habit, a certain food, an indulgence, busy-ness.
Fasting is not the only spiritual discipline. We may feel that we need to choose to add a practice instead of taking one away. It should be something that will focus our attention on God. A daily time of prayer, participating in a daily reflection on a Scripture, doing one random act of kindness per day, volunteering at a local mission, saying grace before every meal, might all be examples of spiritual disciplines.
My hope is that you will join us on this Lenten journey and let your hearts and minds be touched.
Peace to you,