Growing during Lent

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Ash Wednesday serviceBCP p. 265

Lenten practices are an invitation to expand our love of God. Lenten practices are stretches, exercises, and disciplines to open more room or space in our lives to experience God’s love. 

Just as assistance in improving our physical health often begins with an examination in your doctor’s office and a decision to change our treatment plan, so improving our spiritual health starts with a thoughtful look at our spiritual lives (self-examination) and a decision to make a change (repentance). Some of the changes in which people engage include deciding to spend more intentional time with God (prayer), stepping back from things that get in the way, giving up something (fasting and self-denial), or taking up a practice such as daily Bible reading or lectio divina (a Biblical meditation practice). 

Choosing fasting and self-denial also reminds us of the many, many people who do not have enough for their basic needs. Donating to help those in need from funds not spent while fasting connects our fasting to alleviating the needs of others so they experience God’s love and care as well.

Sometimes Lent is portrayed as a self-improvement project, undertaken to make us “better” people. This puts the focus on our abilities, rather than God’s grace. However we choose to observe Lent, it is vital to remember that we cannot expand, merit, or improve God’s love of us. We can only allow ourselves, or position ourselves, to receive God’s grace and love more fully.

As you think through your Lenten disciplines, contemplate selecting at least one practice that you would consider continuing after Lent. The hope of any spiritual practice or spiritual discipline is that we would grow – grow in faith, grow in grace, grow in love – so we, and by extension, the whole world, can experience God’s love and the joy of Jesus’ resurrection more fully.

Nancy +