Ash Wednesday is on the 17th. Less than 2 weeks away. It’s time to begin thinking about your Lenten Practice. And this year, it is necessary to take some extra time to find something that is just right.
No matter who we are and how we’ve lived through the past year, we ALL are weary and exhausted from living through this pandemic. Because our inner resources are depleted, we need to be extra-careful this year not to pick a Lenten Practice that is too stringent and asks too much of our weakened system.
On the other hand, as I talked about in last week’s sermon, evil is real and seems to be gaining power in our world today. And WE are the ones who are called on to stand up, say NO, and cast out evil where we find it. In order to be able to do that, we need to be spiritually strong; we need to own our own brokenness and past sin; we need to be deeply grounded in scripture and prayer; and we need to be connected to the praying, repenting, Jesus-loving community.
So…this year…what Lenten Practice will not be too much for your taxed system while also training yourself up for the work that is ours to do in the coming years.
If you haven’t done much spiritually this past year, or if you are at your limit of all you can do right now, our Lenten Micropractices are a fantastic option. Each day, there is one small action you can take to commit to following Jesus on that day. The actions are themed: Pray, Fast, Give, and More. Look them over ahead of time and plan out which ones will work for you, and come up with a plan for mindfully re-using some days, or skipping some days if you need to. (A recent time management book I read said that when we create reachable stretch goals, completing 85% of our plan will likely still get us where we need to go. That’s a business way of describing grace.) You can sign up for the Mircropractices to be delivered to your inbox here. Or you can pick up a paper booklet from church on Tuesday, February 16th.
If you’re ready for something bigger this year, consider these options:
Read the Litany of Penitence from our Ash Wednesday service daily (Here is the online BCP. Go to “Proper Liturgies for Special Days” then “Ash Wednesday” then scroll down.)
Spend time with scripture daily, using Pray-as-you-Go or some other method.
Spend Lent preparing for the sacrament of Reconciliation by prayerfully journaling your way through this examen, then set a time for masked, individual confession with Helen or Jim.
Between now and Ash Wednesday, carefully consider what you will take on for your Lenten practice. Keep in mind how depleted you are after the past year, and keep in mind the work that is front of us to do. Find a practice that will be grounding, connect you more closely with God, and strengthen you. I’m happy to have a conversation if that would be helpful.