This week begins what’s often regarded as the most sacred of all Christian seasons—a 46-day time of consecration known as Lent. (Wait! Isn’t Lent 40 days? Technically, yes. Forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter are devoted to fasting and contemplation. But you also have six Sundays, which are always feast days.)
We don’t know when Lent became a widespread tradition. But it has always been a malleable practice—more process than ritual, despite efforts to standardize it, starting with the imposition of ashes on Christian foreheads to mark Lent’s beginning. At first it focused on adult converts preparing for Easter baptism. Over time, the practice grew wider and the association with Jesus’s 40-day temptation became more prominent, giving us many familiar themes—journey, self-denial, wilderness, desert, and so on.
So, Lent is not quite like more uniformly practiced Christian events like Advent, Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. How we approach it is mostly directed by what we want to draw from it as individuals and also as a community.
What are you looking for in your spiritual life? Perhaps that’s our first consideration. In the wilderness Jesus fully recognizes who he is: God’s Beloved. In the same way, maybe Lent is the journey we undertake each year to discover where our humanity meets God’s presence in us. Maybe it’s where we make decisions about what matters most to us. Maybe Lent is when we learn that looking for God is how we are found.
Our weekly Lenten conversations will focus on fasting and feasting as mechanisms that enable us to discover we are truly beloved children of God. Don’t miss one of the discussions, starting this Thursday. We’ll begin at 7:30pm CST. And we welcome everybody to join us, whether it’s your first or fiftieth time!
May this season be a vital, enriching time for us all.
Peace and blessings,