“Lent brings us back into focus. The distortions of looks, money, and class disappear. We see who we are, and are then freed to marvel anew at God and God’s love for us.”
Dear Friends, “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the church, to the observance of a holy Lent.”
We are a week into Lent, a season in which we are invited to self-examination and repentance by prayer, fasting, self-denial, and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. Self-examination and repentance are year-round, lifetime pursuits, but Lent is a time when we are called to them particularly. They are difficult, but necessary if we are to grow into the people God has made us to be. The wake-up call Lent offers is the good news of the gospel in miniature: “Repent! Know that you are made, loved, and redeemed by God. Go and enjoy the good life God has given you!” The kicker of course is understanding that what the culture calls the good life really isn’t, and that we are called to something totally different, higher, and better.
Though Mardi Gras evolved as a symbol of one last bit of revelry before the onset of a dark, dreary time, many of us in some way look forward to Lent. It offers a new beginning, a time consciously to examine those places where our lives have gotten out of control and how we can offer them to God to be made right again. Lent is a time to remember the gift of forgiveness and our need of it. Lent brings us back into focus. The distortions of looks, money, and class disappear. We see who we are, and are then freed to marvel anew at God and God’s love for us.
How are you observing Lent? You may abstain from chocolate or other sweets. You may give up some other pleasure. Many folks take on a discipline in Lent, such as letter-writing or journal-keeping. May I offer some other suggestions even a week into Lent?
Pray. If you do not pray regularly, do so. If you do pray regularly, alter your prayer discipline in some meaningful way during Lent. I am offering some meditations with a brief prayer suggestion each day on the church Facebook page, which you might find helpful.
Do something to make your days quieter and simpler. That is to say, fast from something like TV or technology and take time to breathe.
Almsgiving. Be particularly attentive to the needs of the poor this Lent, and let your money follow your heart.
Consider attending the morning prayer services about town, the 12:15 Eucharist on Wednesdays and 5:30 Evening Prayer every time you can.
Balance your personal devotions with corporate worship. If you and your family have not been here as much as usual lately, make it a priority to get to Sunday School and church. Hearing the lessons, singing the hymns, and praying as a community keeps you focused on where you’re headed—to Easter!
I hope that this forty-day season of Lent is a time when we all grow. We are made in God’s image to grow into the full stature of Christ. I hope we take that purpose seriously. We grow when we read God’s Word and meditate on it. We grow when we pray regularly. We grow when we serve others in God’s name. We grow when we give sacrificially for the spread of God’s kingdom. We grow when we “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”
Have a blessed Lent. —Brad Mullis ◊