Today is Ash Wednesday – the day that marks the beginning of the season of Lent in our church calendar. We are observing this special day with contemplative worship services – one at 10:00 a.m. and one at 6:00 p.m. – a time for reflection, prayer, silence, music, and receiving the imposition of ashes. Part of the liturgy for this service is an invitation to observe a holy Lent. The invitation says, in part, “observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love and compassion, and by meditating on God’s Word.” These are all practices that our identity as Christians calls us to pursue throughout the year, not just during the season of Lent. However, during the next six weeks we are encouraged and invited to pay particular attention to these Christian practices and renew our discipleship.
How will you observe a ‘holy Lent’ this year? Will you give up something – the status that comes with privilege? Will you fast – consuming only what you need instead of all that you can afford? Will you be penitent – confessing the ways in which you may have participated, perhaps unknowingly, in structures of racism and sexism and classism? Will you engage in works of love and compassion – reaching out to those who are sick or lonely or hurting, feeding the hungry and clothing those whose wardrobe is insufficient?
I invite you to spend these next six weeks in ways that help you recenter and reclaim your identity as a Beloved Child of God. I invite you to come to church, worship together with others, study scripture together with others, work alongside others, and share your Lenten practices with others who are striving, like you, to be faithful to God’s claim on our lives.