Saturday, February 28, 2015

A thoughtful description of Lent

This is a thoughtful reflection on the season of Lent from The Rev. David Marshall
Reflection- Hey, Lent, is that you?
Did Lent sneak up on you? It did on me. Preparation for the convention, and the other daily duties around the church and school, helped me lose sight of Lent. Or maybe it’s because Lent can be like running into a Debbie-downer acquaintance at the grocery store who left a message on your phone and you forgot to call back. After all, if Lent were a person, would anyone want to hang out with her? I doubt Lent would get many phone calls answered unlike her sister, Easter. Everyone wants to hang out with Easter – she’s fun, sparkling, has candy, and is literally full of life. But alas, in many ways, to get to Easter, we have to go through Lent.
So what is Lent anyway? It is a forty day season between Ash Wednesday and the great celebration of Easter. During the first 100 years of the Church, the early Christians fasted before Easter but only for a couple of days before Easter morning. By the year 325, at the Council of Nicaea (from which we got the Nicene Creed), someone had suggested that Christians fast for 40 days. That practice has ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries. In England, by the mid 1500’s, Lent was a time for intentional thinking or meditating on God and God’s word, for almsgiving, reconciliation and the occasional fast. In our current Ash Wednesday service, all Episcopalians are called to a holy Lent by “self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” Perhaps because of this lengthy list of things to do, a kind of ecclesiastical Honey-Do list, I was trying to avoid running into Lent.
Nevertheless, this Lent, I will do five daily actions: pause, listen, think, pray, go. Pause – to take a moment to breathe; Listen – for the voice and rhythm of God in my life; Think; Pray; and then Go – which means to act on what it is that I feel called to do.
If you’d like to participate in Lent, there are some helpful resources. Every Wednesday in Lent, we will have the opportunity to pause, listen, think, pray and go at the Stations of the Cross. Fr. Stott will provide a space to do all five actions. If you would like a daily action, try this website, which will give you time to pause, to listen and think about God’s Word, read a short reflection on the Bible passage, a short prayer for the day, and then an invite to go practice the prayer and reflection in your day.
Another idea is a free resource that sends you a daily email called “Love Life,” from the Brothers of The Society of Saint John the Evangelist. The series runs from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. Subscribers will be emailed each morning with a mobile-friendly video and evocative question. The daily email subscription is free, as are all the supporting materials. To subscribe, go to
Like running into Lent at the grocery store, we are obligated to do something during the season before Easter. If you hang out with Lent this season, your life with Christ will grow and you will experience a greater, sparkling Easter because of it.

-Fr. Marshall, St. John's Episcopal Church, Chula Vista CA

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