Lent begins with Ash Wednesday – which this year falls on February 26. Lent is six weeks observed as a special time of preparation for Easter – which will be April 12 this year. For Christians, Lent offers an opportunity for spiritual renewal through spiritual exercises and practices. It is not meant as a bleak and restricted time, rather it is a time of rediscovery. A chance to open ourselves more deeply to the beauty and power of the ‘dying and rising to new in Jesus’ that our faith calls us to. It is a time to ponder the reality of the death and resurrection and to allow it to soak into our deepest self.
Traditionally Lent is marked by the three practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer isn’t just asking God for what we want, prayer is attention to God; a way of ‘listening’ for the voice of God in our life. Prayer can include silence, various forms of meditation and mindfulness and time spent in nature. Lent encourages us to step aside from the busyness of life and experience a new depth of prayer.
Fasting is another traditional Lenten practice. While we normally associate fasting with giving up food, we can also ‘fast’ from a variety of things in our life (TV, shopping, indifference to others to name just a few). Fasting helps us to be free from the self-centredness that drives so much of our life.
Our third practice is almsgiving – which traditionally means giving to the needy. This giving can encompass a wide range of helping other people, our society and the world itself. Lent calls us to a greater compassion for others. It invites us to examine ourselves honestly and to see how in many and subtle ways we have accepted societies concerns and priorities over God’s.
Lent is a time for spiritual growth. I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity for growth and newness of life.
- Reverend Roberta