Just imagine that this Lent will be different from every other Lent we've experienced. Imagine that there will be many graces offered us this year. Let's even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, and deeper desires for love and service.
Preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing our sense of anticipation. If we imagine Lent as an "ordeal" or a time to dread in some way, then we've already pre-disposed ourselves to not get very much out of it. But I would contend that these days before Lent are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.
Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. There is something coming that we can truly look forward to. If we get too focused on ourselves and what we are going to do or not do, we could risk missing the gift God wants to give us. We have to keep aware of the fact that grace comes from God. This is about God's desire to bless us. It is easier for us to imagine with this mindset, that what we really want to do is place ourselves in a space to receive what God wants to give us.
We receive God’s gifts as body-persons. We experience things with our senses, relish them with our imaginations, and share in God’s own creative and loving activity when our hearts and hands work together for and with others.
We can let our homes be places full of the holy – things that help raise our minds and hearts to God. Our world is full of so many images that lure our minds and hearts elsewhere. Some symbols will carry the ongoing meaning we give them, for us and for our families and loved ones.
We can make sure that we have a cross in a central place in our home during Lent. A bowl of water on our dining room table can be transformed into a reminder of our preparing to renew our baptismal promises. A candle can be lit at each meal to remind us of the light of Christ among us in Lent and to prepare us for the new light at the Easter. Placing a Bible in a central place in our home reminds us of the central place of God’s Word in our lives on this year’s Lenten journey.
This year’s Lent can be different. It will take an openness to God’s grace, a deep desire to receive what is being offered us, and a few signs and symbols to help us stay focused throughout the season.
If we do these things, God’s desire for our hearts and our desire for greater union with God will meet. Lent should no longer feel like a burden, but rather a blessing.
Join us this Sunday for our services on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, February 27th at 8 AM and 10:30 AM. If you cannot be with us in person, please join us on YouTube or Facebook as we stream our 10:30 AM service.
On Tuesday, March 1st, we are thrilled to let you know that we will be having our Pancake Supper beginning at 6:00 PM in Ribble Hall. This will be the first time we are able to have a meal together (other than the Holy Eucharist) since early 2020. This day is traditionally Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday.” This is the day when before daybreak on Ash Wednesday all of the fat/lard is removed from the house until Easter Day. It is the beginning of a time of fasting and denial. So, come on out next Tuesday wearing your Mardi Gras beads or other celebratory fanfare for our Pancake Supper. A special thanks to Ned Hopkins and Adam Walker for coordinating this event! A free will offering will be solicited at the time of the supper.
On Wednesday, March 2nd, we will be having our Ash Wednesday Liturgy and distribution of ashes at both 12:00 PM (Noon) and then again at 5:30 PM with music in the church. I pray you will be able to make it that afternoon or evening to begin your Lenten Journey in the shadow of the Cross until we come alive again with new life on the Day of Resurrection. If you cannot be with us, we will be streaming the service beginning at 5:30 PM, hoping you will be able to see the service then.
May our Lord fill you with all spiritual blessings and peace. I am, as always, yours in Christ, Fr. Bill+