At Easter we celebrate the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s a holy time marked by feasting, color, music and traditions such as Easter eggs to remind us that in Christ God brings new life. Lent is the time to get ready for the joys of Easter, and so in Lent we put distractions away and take up things that set our minds on God. Not to be pious or impress anybody. Both Isaiah and Paul tell us God does not want fancy worship services or big displays. What God wants is seeking, trusting hearts, inner attitudes that result in caring actions.
Prayer and reading scripture are two of the best ways to focus fresh attention on God. Charity and concrete acts of service are also emphasized in Lent, along with simply taking time to think about God's grace and love. We have seven weeks to go with Jesus toward the cross, time to build some habits that might stay with us long after Lent is past. All these practices of Lent are going to be the themes of this year’s ecumenical Lenten dinners.
One thing Lent is not about is trying to make ourselves feel small or bad, not at all. God is not in the shame business, something not all Jesus’ followers have figured out. In fact if we have been using faith practices to try and make ourselves feel big, Lenten disciplines remind us to knock that foolishness off. In the Lenten scripture readings Jesus wants to free us from wasting energy on surface attitudes and things that will not last, and that certainly can’t save us.
So how about accepting Lent’s invitation to deepen our awareness of God's presence and grace? To open to what God has done, is doing and will do without fail whether we’re ready or not. One thing we’re going to try in worship throughout Lent is letting the Prayers of the People really be the people’s prayers. There will be blank cards in the pews on which to write a brief prayer—no names please. At some point we’ll gather them up. Then one or two people will “pray” the cards when it’s time for corporate prayer. We hope this experiment will be at least one way to allow Lent to be a holy time of rest and restoration. Peace, Catherine
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
For the prayer list click here.