Our Ash Wednesday liturgy includes an invitation to a holy Lent. It concludes: “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
We have reminders for a lot of things in our lives. Our phones can remind us to buy toothpaste, make a doctor appointment, or pay tuition. Our cars have stickers on them reminding us when the next oil change is due, and information lights to remind us to get the brakes checked. Think of Lent as your yearly reminder to renew your repentance and faith. The Christian life is not one that begins at baptism and runs without maintenance or refueling until death. It is a life that requires constant monitoring and attention. It requires checkups and recalibration. Lent is a time to do that.
Lent is a time to listen more intently to who God is calling us to be and how God is calling us to live, and to tune out other voices that are calling us away from God’s purposes. I’m not going to ask what you are giving up for Lent. I want to know what you are taking on. Start by focusing on what you want to take on to grow closer to God, and you inevitably will give up something that is keeping you from God. If you spend 15 minutes a day “reading and meditating on God’s holy Word,” you give up 15 minutes of something else that I guarantee is not as life-giving.
At St. Mary’s this Lent, we are offering a variety of worship styles and education programs, and I hope you find something here that nurtures your spirit. But I pray also that you will find a daily practice that you can take on for this season. Even something as simple as spending 3 minutes before you go to sleep to tell God your joys and challenges of the day and to feel God rejoice and weep with you can be life-changing. I invite you to a holy Lent. Actually, it is God who invites you. Will you accept?