Thoughts for Lent
Lenten reflections: An early Easter
Easter falls rather late on the calendar this year, but why not start celebrating early? Easter Sunday is my favorite day of the year, and the Season of Lent, the 40 day period leading up to Easter, is my favorite season of the church calendar. I have many reasons for this.
First, who doesn’t love the lengthening of the days and the warmer temperatures? Second, Lent, traditionally, has been observed as a time of spiritual preparation and formation. I view it as an opportunity to renew our spirits as we move through the natural rhythms of the year, from the dormancy of winter to the vibrancy of spring. In the same way that we anticipate the earth’s awakening once more as new life strains to burst forth from the ground, we can also take steps to cultivate the growth of our souls. If Easter is the lily opening up in full bloom, then Lent is the seed actively germinating just before the bud pushes up from where it has been carefully planted in the ground. It is no longer dormant, but it requires the right soil, temperature, adequate moisture and an increase in oxygen if it is to flourish fully into a mature plant. In a like manner, Lent can afford us an occasion to nurture new life in our spirits.
There is no one right way to observe this season. Historically, some well-established Lenten practices include reading, reflection, meditation, prayer, self-examination and self-denial. I encourage you to ponder some ways in which you might cultivate your own personal fruitfulness this season. Here are a few ideas for consideration:
Study, quiet time and rest
You don’t have to wait until Saturday or Sunday to rest. Find moments during an ordinary day to be still in the Divine presence. Choose to spend a few minutes during lunch, or before or after your work day to do one of the following: Listen to an inspiring audio recording or podcast on your computer or uplifting music in your car. Read a poem or sing a song out loud when no one but God can hear you. Start a prayer journal or a gratitude list. Try a using a daily devotional reader such as “The Upper Room” or “Our Daily Bread.” Wherever you are on Easter Sunday, consider attending a special worship and experience a sacred moment of rest.
Service and giving
Another way to observe Lent is to take on a new way of serving. Throughout the forty days of the season, find a little something extra you can do for our community and our world. Give some of your time, talent, or treasure to one or our many island non-profit groups or civic organizations. Give blood, or simply lend a helping hand where one is needed.
Fasting is not a popular practice, but what if we recast it in some way? Why not view abstinence as reorientation: to abstain for something, rather than from something. We can voluntarily give something up for Lent, like chocolate, social media, TV watching, or shopping in order to reorient ourselves away from the distraction of those things, and back toward what we think is most important.
“The one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” — Galatians 6:8
This Lent, take your own seeds of faith and sow them into something big and beautiful! And please don’t wait for April 21 to celebrate Easter; prepare for it instead, and enjoy blessings-in-advance during the marvelous season of Lent.
Peter Preiser is the pastor at Harbor Church.