Dear friends in Christ,
“I invite you, 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.” (BCP p. 265)
In case you missed it, Lent has begun. If you’re like me, and you haven’t exactly decided on a Lenten practice, do not despair; the time is always right to turn to God. The joy of Easter awaits us all, whether we prepare for it or not, just as the joy of Christmas does. It is not our preparation that ushers it in; it is pure gift. And should we not prepare for it, it is pure gift anyway.
In Matthew’s Gospel (20:1-16) we read the parable of the vineyard owner, who keeps going to the marketplace to hire yet more workers, and at the end of the day pays everyone the same, whether they worked 1 hour or 10. It’s not about how long or how well we prepare, God still comes into the world. God still shows us love is stronger than death. We don’t prepare so God will do something; we prepare in response to what God has already done, and is doing.
You’ll notice the invitation to a holy Lent is in the name of the Church, not in the name of Jesus. God makes Lent, and every season, holy. The Church calls people to observe what God is doing, to pay special attention to the holiness of every day, and to participate in that holiness as the Body of Christ. That’s why we come to church and participate in church activities; because it nourishes and nurtures, encourages and empowers us to be God’s people in the world.
The Church invites you to a holy Lent, and that is an invitation not just to personal work, but to journey through Lent as part of a community – worshipping, learning, serving, and being in fellowship. However long we’ve been here, we’re all in this vineyard together. We till and tend–God gives the growth. May we marvel at God’s generosity and care in every season.