Beloved in Christ,
Today the season of Lent begins. Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our mortality and is a moment to reflect on our brokenness and sin. It is important to remember that as we do so, we are also reminded of the resurrection and the merciful grace of God. The solemn remembrance of Ash Wednesday is meant to draw us into a deeper knowledge of God’s love for us, and to make us mindful of the hope of resurrection and renewal.
Lent is an important time in the church year. For generations Lent was a time of preparation for the sacrament of Baptism. It is a time of special discipline and devotion that prepares us to receive the new life offered to us in the Resurrection. It was also a time of reconciliation, when the penitent were restored to the life of the church.
The practices of Lent include prayer, fasting, alms giving, self-denial, and reading of Holy Scripture. All of these practices are part of keeping a Holy Lent. I encourage you to pray and consider what disciplines you will undertake this Lent. One of the best analogies for this season is that of a runner training to run a race. Each practice, each discipline, builds toward the goal. Lent trains us to be able to sacrifice for each other and for our faith. Just as an athlete carefully considers each competition, Lent is a time when we take care to consider our own actions and priorities mindful of the love of God. When we are estranged, we are reminded to reconcile with God and our neighbors.
Some helpful suggestions for this Lenten season:
find a time within the week to worship, and really listen. Open your heart and attend to the Word proclaimed and the Sacraments offered.
Give of yourself, your time, and your treasure in a sacrificial way. Take time to take part in the outreach ministries of Calvary or elsewhere, and show the love of God. You may even decide to forgo a meal once a week and give what you would have spent to feed the needy.
Take time each day to pray. Whether it is in the morning or the evening, or anytime, set aside time for this purpose.
Read the Bible
If you wish to take this on as a Lenten practice, read the Gospel of Mark, read a Psalm a day, or read St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.
Be kind to yourself and others. When you choose your Lenten fasts, remember that you may not always succeed in them. Let this be an opportunity to reflect on your need for God. Let every discipline you undertake be out of love for God and one another. Remember Paul’s words in the Thirteenth Chapter of Corinthians, “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing… So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
I wish you all a blessed and Holy Lent. May God bless you in your Lenten practices and guide you to a fuller celebration of his resurrection, grace, and love this Easter.
Faithfully in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Jon +