Ash Wednesday comes early this year on Wednesday, February 14. With its arrival, we begin again the season of Lent, the forty-day journey that will conclude with Holy Week and its remembrance of the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Last year I encouraged us to think about Lent as the expectation and practice of springtime. Lent comes from the Latin word lente, which simply means the season of Spring. In the early church, Lent was the last intensive period in educating those who would join the church, culminating with their baptism on Holy Saturday, the night before Easter. By calling this time â€œLentâ€ and emphasizing the nurture of those who were new to the faith, the early church understood this season as a time for spir- itual growth and care.
As we begin the transformation process with other Lutheran churches in the Southeastern Synod, this understanding of Lent might be especially appropriate. This process is about changing our mindset and changing our practices as we listen to God, listen to one another, and listen to our community. So, perhaps as a church we can take these six weeks of Lent to develop these practices within our lives so that we might live them out as a community of faith.
First, let us listen to God. Take on practices during Lent to help you hear the call of God upon your life. Take on a new or re-dedicated practice of prayer or daily study of Scripture. Challenge yourself to read and reflect on a psalm or chapter a day. Take 10-20 minutes in the morning to sit in silence and center yourself in God. Entrust God with each day as you pray, â€œLord, let me see this day as an opportunity and not as an obligation.â€
Second, let us listen to one another. Perhaps as individuals, such listening starts with our own fami- lies. During Lent, perhaps you are called to give up television or computer games and spend time with your family. Perhaps you are called to practice having dinner with your family at least five times dur- ing the week. Perhaps you are called to designate a night as a game night or a date night. Whatever that practice, be there with your loved ones, listen to their day, hear their concerns.
Third, let us listen to our community. Talk to your neighbors and see how you might be there for them. Ask what needs are in the community that you are equipped to respond to. Reach out to another group or religion that you do not know. â€œPay it forward,â€ by buying someone a coffee or a lunch or their groceries. Find where God might be at work and how you can be a part of it.
Whatever practices and listeningâ€™s you take on during Lent, do not lend them end with the celebration of Easter. Let them become ingrained patterns that will deepen your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
And know that as you commit during this Lenten season to listen to God, listen to one another, and listen to our community, Epiphany Lutheran Church is also committing to do the same as we explore together how God is leading us into Godâ€™s future. Find the ways to stretch yourselves and grow in your faith. See where God will take you and Epiphany in this season of Lent and beyond!
In Christ,Pastor David