I invite you, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent.
Book of Common Prayer
A notice from The Rev. Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Forward Movement landed in my inbox yesterday. It begins:
We are just a week away from Lent. I can hardly wait. This year more than ever, I will welcome this great season in which we are invited to focus on returning to God, on recommitting ourselves to following Jesus.
Like Scott, I’m grateful as we approach this spiritual season. It’s a gentle challenge for us to go deeper in our relationship with Christ and wider in our love of neighbor.
All around the Diocese of Washington congregations will observe Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday services and some with Ashes-to-Go. There will be a wide variety of Lenten spiritual offerings in the diocese, including Alpha, a course to explore the basic tenets of Christianity; many Bible studies; book groups; and prayer practices. There are also spiritual practices to be found online, among them The Five Marks of Love from the Society of St. John the Evangelist, the ever popular Lent Madness, and Forward Movement’s offering A Season of Prayer: 40 Days in the Desert. The simplest way to observe Lent, and perhaps the most meaningful, is to dedicate a few minutes each day for silent prayer and inspiration from Scripture.
Every year in Lent, I turn off the radio when I drive — a small and intentional act that creates space in my otherwise crowded life. This year, I’ll also co-host the pilot Alpha class at Washington National Cathedral, with over 100 participants from several congregations. And as soon as I read Scott Gunn’s post today, I knew that I wanted to join in A Season of Prayer. “During this time,” he writes, “we will pray and read scripture about hospitality, about wandering, and about caring for refugees. Let us all fervently pray that every person – all of whom are made in God’s image – finds a place to call home. Let us pray that those of us with homes will open them to a world in need.” Next week, I’ll have more to say about the issues our immigrant and multicultural congregations are facing and the rising anxiety and fear among immigrants in our land.
But finally, let us use the hashtag #edowlent as a way to share our experiences and draw encouragement from one another’s reflection. Throughout the season, we invite you to to post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter a brief, personal reflection on your lenten experience that day. On the days you have an offering, feel free to share. On the days you need inspiration, come to receive. We are over 40,000 strong in the Diocese of Washington, so as Lent begins, let’s remember to be in one another’s good company and consider God’s invitation to go deeper in faith and wider in love.