We will gather here at Trinity on March 1st to offer the Ash Wednesday liturgy and thus enter into the holy season of Lent. Whereas Christmas and Epiphany are about outwardly and joyfully celebrating the infinite love of God born in Bethlehem and made manifest through the course of Jesus’ earthly life, Lent is about introspection. It is about looking deep within. It is about acknowledging that, even as we celebrate the light of Christ always with us, there continues to be a blindness within ourselves that prevents that light from fully entering in. Lent is the season that best represents what St. John of the Cross described as “the dark night of the soul”. Even as we seek to follow Jesus, there is still so much that gets in the way. And as long as those obstacles are there, we will never fully know the depth and breadth of God’s love for us.
This is why the observance of Lent includes both penance and sacrifice. These are not acts of self-punishment. Rather, we give things up in order to experience the reality that so much we think is important really is not. In fact, the things that we have come to desire and covet actually blind us to the simple beauty of living our lives trusting entirely in the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Lent is a season in which we are called to pray more and study more in order to be filled with the real riches that God seeks to share with us in this lifetime. Frankly, the spiritual poverty we know all too well is not God’s fault. The hunger we experience exists because we are too busy stuffing ourselves with all the world tells us is important. The junk food that our world offers will never be an adequate substitute for the bread of life.
Joan Chittister writes “Ash Wednesday is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent. We don’t have time to waste on nothingness. We need to repent of our dillydallying on the road to God. We need to regret the time we’ve spent playing with dangerous distractions and emptying diversions along the way. We need to repent of our senseless excursions into sin, our breaches of justice, our failures of honesty, our estrangement from God. We need to get back in touch with our souls.”
To that end, there will be additional opportunities for study and prayer here at Trinity over the course of the season. Please read carefully the rest of this Genesis in order to learn about them. I will be leading a discussion on Wednesday evenings throughout Lent focusing on “The 5 Marks of Love”. In baptism, each of us has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and “marked as Christ’s own forever.” How do you and I live accordingly? How do we go about incarnating the love of Jesus for the rest of the world to see? We will begin with a simple supper at 6:30pm. The conversation will last an hour. We will conclude with the prayers we know as Compline. I look forward to our conversation.
I pray that this Lent will be a life-changing season for all of us.