On Wednesday, at our Ash Wednesday service, we began the 40-day-long season of Lent, a season that, from the early days of the church, Christians have observed as preparation for Easter. Part of that preparation has been hearing about, praying and meditating on Jesus’ life and death. Part of it has been about examining our own lives, looking for those places we feel connected to God (have caught God’s wave) and those places where we are adrift. And part of the Lenten preparation is contemplating the reality that we each will die and therefore what we do with our lives is important—to us and to God.
One way that people have chosen to prepare is to either give something up (an actual fast or fasting from an activity) or take something on. Those of us who come from traditions that observe Lent may remember giving up chocolate or candy or dessert. Some may remember taking on serving others—either by engaging in acts of compassion or by setting aside a coin every day and giving them to the church on Easter Sunday.
There is no right or wrong way to observe Lent, though I invite you to consider putting something down or taking something on—engaging in some sort of discipline whether or not it is something you can or want to sustain after Lent. The season is not intended to be a 40-day-long self-help exercise, rather it is intended to reconnect us with God. For some of us that means deliberately engaging in acts of compassion and service, things that take us out of our self-centered tendencies and connect us with our others and with our own vulnerability and dependence.
I will be taking up the 40-day Green Christianity carbon fast as an act of reconnecting with Creation (click here for link). Some of us will engage in putting something down, whether that is food, shopping, or an obsession with social media. What we put down does not have to be something that is innately unhealthy, but it probably should be something that on some deep level we know has more control over our lives, our souls, than is healthy. Something that we are using to try and fill the empty space at the center of our being that is properly, and best, filled by God.
I encourage you to pray about what you might need to pick up or put down this Lent. And I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities for prayer and engagement at St. Peter’s you will find elsewhere in this Spire edition.
In the name of the church, I invite you to a holy Lent; a time of prayer, a time with God that leads to richness of life and the fullness of Easter joy.