We are now at the third Sunday in Lent, halfway through the Lenten season, with Holy Week and Easter less than a month away. A mid-point in any activity is always an opportunity for review of the current moment and the chance to look ahead for course corrections.
Where are you in your Lent?
For some, Lent is much like New Year’s Resolutions, intentions are good but life moves quickly on and so does the intent. For others, it’s a mix of day-to-day attempts to follow a Lenten practice that’s hit and miss; for still others, it’s nothing in particular.
Whether you have long, short, or no experience of Lent, it isn’t really about giving up chocolate but rather the renewing of, or the beginning of, a relationship with God in Christ with the Holy Spirit. Too often we have an old idea of Lent as hiding away in the dark and drear of a spirit-less dungeon counting our sins like we count those nocturnal sheep. Instead, it is a time to reflect on ways to re-organize our spiritual closets, clean out the cobwebs, discard all that no longer fits, and try on some things not worn for a while that hang there waiting to be noticed.
One way to approach these next few weeks is to pick one small thing to do, and do it. Try one or two chapters of Proverbs each day. There are 31 very short chapters and you have to love a book of scripture that contains surely I’m too stupid to be human. See if you can find it ~ without Google. Or maybe it’s to re-read the appointed Sunday scriptures throughout the week as you ponder the sermon. Try thinking through each part of the Sunday service as it happens with a fresh perspective. Or, simply set a few minutes each day for prayer.
The Book of Common Prayer is an amazing resource that we use in our hands all too infrequently. A priest friend of mine was sending a text about something in the Prayer Book and it auto-corrected to “Power Book.” “YES,” she said, “that’s what it is!”
You can also go online and search for prayers for a specific topic, or pick up a Bible and read through a few Psalms such as Psalms 23, 62, 121, or 139. I’m closing this with my all-time #1 favorite prayer. It was written by Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk who lived a wild and worldly life before choosing to enter a cloistered monastery where his wise abbot encouraged him to write. And, thankfully, write he did!
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.” ~ From: Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton
Over the next few days think about what kind of spiritual development you want for your soul and test out various ways to see what might work for you. There are uncountable numbers of pages on Facebook with meditations, prayers, etc., for you to discover and taste, pick up a Forward Day-by-Day booklet at the Church, or explore ideas that libraries hold. There’s no right or wrong way to do Lent if you are truly interested in growing closer to God, or if you think you want to try. Lent is less about giving up and more about taking on fresh ways of walking toward Christ. So what you think about the simply human prayer shown above as you put one foot in front of the other each day?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.