There were many years when Lent meant nothing to me. My church didn’t observe it so I didn’t know anything about it, except what my one and only Roman Catholic friend, Laura, told me. Then again, she had to cover her head in church, couldn’t eat meat on Fridays and had to go to Confession so all in all Lent seemed rather strange to me.
That is until I became an Episcopalian and was introduced to the spiritual practices of keeping it. At first, I did what I overheard others were doing. I gave up chocolate. I didn’t drink alcohol. I attended the Lenten Suppers. I journaled. I prayed. I read my Bible. Over time, however, these practices became rather perfunctory. So, I branched out to fasting on Fridays, making a Lenten retreat, and volunteering to make sandwiches for those who were home insecure.
Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with any of these practices. In fact, they can be very meaningful ways to observe a Holy Lent. And yet, what I’ve come to believe, is that what matters most, is creating more space for holy encounters with the Divine. Carving out time for stillness and quiet. Being intentional about our prayer life, mindful of our mind-body-spirit connection, and being honest about how we are living in ways that are separating us from the love of God and distancing ourselves from one another. For me, and I believe for each one of us at Grace Church this year, Lent is also an opportunity to release the reins of control and certainty. To slow down, trust and wait to see what unfolds.
On February 14, as we enter into this penitential season on Ash Wednesday, I hope you will take advantage of the many opportunities that have been planned by the clergy and staff to support you this Lent. There’s the Monday evening Bible study on Isaiah, the read-along on the Gospel of Mark, the Lenten Supper Series on Wednesday evenings, confessions on Mondays, healing on Thursdays and many worship opportunities.
I am blessed to be on this journey with you and may God grant us the grace of a Holy Lent.