Lent requires making choices
By self-examination and repentance, by prayer and fasting, by self-denial and acts of generosity, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God, let us keep a holy Lent.
These words introduce the Ash Wednesday liturgy in churches around the world. They are words that echo the ancient view that Lent is a special season – a holy season – that can be a great gift to all who observe this time of the Church’s Year.
For Lent to be a holy season it requires making choices. It requires some conscious attention as to how we will live during these 40 days. The spiritual practices mentioned in the Ash Wednesday liturgy are practical things that every one of us can do:
SELF-EXAMINATION: Ask yourself these questions: Do I live my life in the way that God through Jesus calls me to live? Do I use my time, my energy, my talents and my money in ways that are consistent with the model that Jesus gave us.
PRAYER: Conversations with God are our ‘windows to heaven.’ Converse honestly, openly, and often with God each day. Bring to God the little things that happen to you and the specific big concerns you have. Bring your questions, feelings, confusions, and your love to God. Simple flowing conversations let God become part of your day.
FASTING: Here we find the greatest challenge! Yet it does not have to be difficult. If you have the opportunity to make a choice about food, choose one thing less. Once you find that you can get by without this or that food, or drink item, you discover the joy of getting by with less or without.
SELF-DENIAL: Self-denial works on the same principle as fasting, but is applied to other areas of our lives besides food and drink. There is no end to the possibilities we have of discovering how we can get by with less in our lives. Think: “Simply!”… at least for Lent. Maybe it will become a habit.
ACTS OF GENEROSITY: Once again there are endless possibilities. God has been generous to us and so we respond in generosity. Lent is traditionally a time for the giving of our financial resources to God’s mission in the world. ABM’s Lenten Appeal is one way you can do this.
READING AND MEDITATING ON GOD’S HOLY WORD: Join a Lenten study group. Choose to read at least one short passage of Scripture every day. Take home the Service sheet that includes the Sunday readings. Spend time reading and reflecting on those passages during the week.
The season of Lent begins on Wednesday. I invite you to mark the beginning of Lent by coming to a Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes at either 8 am, 10 am, or 6 pm.