“I invite you, therefore, to observe a Holy Lent.” These words, spoken by the clergy in the Ash Wednesday service, strike me afresh each time I pray them. Growing up, as I did, in a denomination that did not observe Lent, coming to understand the potential of a Holy Lent has been a learning curve for me. Much more than simply taking on new practices or giving something up, observing a Holy Lent is an invitation to know myself better.
True, taking on a new practice, like helping others, can be a means by which one comes to know one’s self better. Serving those who are most marginalized in our community can transform us from being too self-focused, helping us to see the world with greater compassion and humility. I may become more aware that my problems are really small by comparison, and my heart may grow with gratitude for the blessings of this life.
Giving up something is a common practice in Lent. People give up chocolate or wine or caffeine or meat on Fridays. In my household we do give up meat on Fridays. It is a practice my husband, a former Roman Catholic, has observed his entire life. He looks forward to an occasional fried perch supper as it brings back memories of his childhood. For me it is a discipline of intentionality as I plan our weekly meals. For me it is a discipline of intentionality as I consider what it means to eat differently one day of the week because it is Lent. This thought process is at its best when what I am pondering reminds me that I do this, give up something or take something on, because I am working on my relationship with God. How is it that I may experience God in a new or different way because I am observing a Holy Lent? And, how is that what I am or am not doing, enhances my awareness of my experience of God.
Growing in awareness of God’s presence and of my relationship with God is the purpose of living a life of faith. Observing a Holy Lent is like looking at that relationship through a microscope - it becomes more focused on the details which might otherwise go unnoticed.
Prayer is one of the primary ways I work on growing in my awareness of and sharpening my attention span on God. This season of Lent we will reflect on and learn about the many forms of prayer. These reflections will be grounded in the Rule of St. Benedict as described in the book “The Restoration Project” by Christopher Martin.
At Christ Church, Dearborn, we will have a variety of opportunities on Sunday morning to engage the book and to consider forms of prayer. Each table in the Fellowship Hall will offer a different opportunity for engagement. Two tables will have jigsaw puzzles for those who like to work on puzzles and have conversation with others. Some tables will have mandalas to color, an act of prayer through color. Some tables will have books available for simply reading, perhaps this is one’s only opportunity for reading. Some tables will have discussion questions from the book to prompt those who may wish to enter into a discussion on the topic of the day.
At St. Paul Lutheran there will be a weekly soup supper at 6:15 on Wednesday night, beginning Feb. 25. Each supper will include small group discussions on the book, “The Restoration Project.”
Each week, or perhaps more often, this blog will post reflections on the material so that those who are unable to attend one of the other opportunities can participate on their own. Perhaps people will wish to start their own small group which will meet at the convenience of the members? How ever you wish to engage in the material we hope this Lent is indeed holy.
Ash Wednesday Services, February 18:
Christ Church, Dearborn - noon, 4:30pm for children, 7:00pm
St. Paul, Dearborn - 1:00pm, 7:00pm