Our Lenten Journey

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. — Psalm 139:23-24

It is hard to believe that Lent is upon us but it is. In fact, Ash Wednesday is February 14th, aka Valentine’s Day. The somber acknowledgment of our mortality collides with our fondness for fairytale romance. How do we hold these seemingly disparate contexts in tension? How do we, simultaneously, honor our sacred church traditions and celebrate a much-loved secular holiday?

Fortunately, Lent is not a competition. It is the time of the year when we prepare ourselves for Easter and cling to the promise of new life in Christ. Lent is an opportunity to engage in introspection and spiritual renewal. Often we embrace time-honored practices of fasting and repentance. Although the idea of self-denial may seem cumbersome, it can actually be rather uplifting. A faithful Christian offered this interesting description of his Lenten experience. “I usually give up listening to my car radio and commute to work in ‘silence.’ Inevitably, I end up hearing noises from under the hood that lead to some needed repairs. I find that the silence does the same for my soul. I become more aware of what’s rattling around inside of me so that I can bring it to God for healing.”

The gift of transformation surrounds us throughout our Lenten journey. Renewal is here. Make room for it. People have asked me what they can do during Lent to prepare for Easter. The possibilities are virtually endless because Lenten practices are not one-size-fits-all. The main thing is that we make an intentional effort to turn our hearts to God. After all, God focuses on our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). So if we shift our focus away from spiritual renewal and concentrate on the right and wrong way to practice Lent, we run the risk of missing the life giving possibility of the Lenten season. Recently, I heard a story that illustrates my point in a humorous way.

Dave remembers his friend Jim’s initial Lenten experience. Jim was a Protestant attending a Catholic university and wanted to experience the spiritual exercise of Lent. Dave recalls, “During our freshman year at a Catholic university, one of my roommates decided that he would give up pizza for Lent. For a college student, giving up pizza is quite a challenge because it is a student’s staple food. Even still, food-related Lenten sacrifices are fairly common. What’s notable about Jim’s pizza abstinence was the fact that he started on the first weekend in December and carried it through the end of our final exams. It turns out, Jim confused Lent with Advent. We didn’t have the heart to tell him.”

Thankfully, we do not need to worry about getting Lent ‘right’ because God knows us – faults and all – and God showers us with grace. So this year, I encourage you to think of the things that give you life, and do more of them! I also encourage you to think of how you can live the life that God wants you to live, and then live it! Lent is the perfect time for us to ask ourselves some questions that will help us prepare to fully celebrate the life we have in Christ. Throughout this Lenten journey, ask yourself, “What gives me life?” “How do I live the life that God wants for me?” Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to the answer. During these 40 days, it is my hope that we will grow spiritually and our hearts will lean toward hallelujah!

Pastor Angela

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