As always, we will have an Ash Wednesday service at 7:00, and, at that service, I will invite everyone, 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.”
Self-examination and repentance means that we pause to acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God. Many of these ways are obvious to us, but not all. That is why we are invited to spend time in self-examination even before repenting. We need to know what we are repenting of! After acknowledging that we turn away, we commit ourselves to turning back to God, in the comforting assurance that God forgives our sin and restores us to right relationship.
What fasting and self-denial mean in practice will vary significantly from person to person, but all of us should give something up or take something on. The point is not suffering for its own sake. The point is to act in such a way that our attention is drawn back to God. So, for example, I will give up sweets and Sudoku. I will probably complain about that a LOT. But ideally, every time I crave sweets or think about completing a Sudoku, I will pause to remember what Christ has done for me. Then, come Easter, I can eat sweets again, return to my puzzles, and generally celebrate God’s abundance with renewed gratitude!
Finally, we commit to reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. At Saint David’s, we offer the daily Bible Project, a pair of weekly Bible studies, and another weekly Christian formation program on “Mere Christianity.” It is harder to do these things on one’s own, but that is good, too. The point is to take some time to come to know God better.
If we take Lent seriously, if we strive to have a Holy Lent, we will not enjoy every minute of it. But we will grow a little closer to God. We will know a little more joy. We will experience a little bit of new life. And that is a very good reason to give it a try!!