As a child I disliked Lent. I associated it with having to give up something I liked; attending extra services where the petitions of the Litany seemed dark and scary; and lots of sin and unworthiness being hurled at the congregation in prayers, readings and sermons. A friend of mine when asked what she wanted to give up for lent simply responded “Lent!”
Well like it or not here it comes. As an adult I have a different view of its purpose. I see Lent as an invitation to journey. We are given a 6 week period in which to try out some new behaviors, attitudes or elements of life. Six weeks is short enough to be able to see the end but long enough to let us see results and have things become more habitual.
What sorts of things are possible in the invitational season?
- Give up habits and attitudes that have negative consequences. We might give up anger, give up impatience, change or eliminate unhealthy habits.
- We might choose to take on things we have wanted to do but have not found the time or will to start. Use Forward Day by Day to begin us in some daily reading and thinking about scripture. Or use one or more of the Daily Devotions in the prayer book (pg 137- 140) as the basis for personal prayer.
- We might set aside some time to take on a personal ministry such as visiting someone who is home bound or begin a personal discipline such as journaling, or reflective reading.
- We might decide to attend church each week or attend a prayer group or a Lenten program or weekday program.
I believe that the purpose of Lent is for us, in some way, to move closer to being the person of faith we desire to be. And we are given this time period in which to make a beginning to do that. So it is not really about giving up or taking on either separately or together. (These may be a way to achieve what we desire but are not the ends in themselves.)
On Ash Wednesday we are invited in the name of the church to the observance of Lent. We are invited to turn our lives towards God (the real meaning of repentance is to turn back) in order to become the person we desire to become and to better able to celebrate the great feast and festival of Easter with its promise of new life in Christ.
Join us for the Lenten invitation to journey to God