At two different Ash Wednesday services today, I invited the assembled congregation to the observance of a Holy Lent (using the form in The Book of Common Prayer). In my sermon, I encouraged folks to consider what a Holy Lent might look like for us living in this place and time. The readings for Ash Wednesday invited us to change the world (Isaiah) and to be counter cultural (Matthew). Traditionally, Lenten disciplines have been prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
So the question becomes how does that translate? Thoughts: if you've decided to give up something for Lent like chocolate (or coffee, or your evening cocktail) consider taking the money that you've saved over the course of Lent and donating it to a cause that fights hunger, either locally or internationally. If you've taken on a discipline of prayer for Lent, consider committing to pray daily for something or someone: for peace, for someone you love who is struggling, for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). What you pray for matters less than that you pray.
Given my willingness to dole out advice, it seemed only fair to put my own Lenten practices on the table. I've decided to do four things for Lent (though I'm totally not an overachiever, so not every thing every day):
1. The Daily Devotional Guide produced by Episcopal Relief and Development. Called Peace and Compassion, it focuses on the elimination of extreme poverty through the MDGs.
2. Morning Prayer. I've missed morning prayer and would like to get back into the practice. I've subscribed to a great podcast which has allowed me to download morning prayer onto my iPod.
3. This Blog. One of the things I feel like I need a bit more of in my life is discipline. If you've followed this blog at all, you can tell that I've not written with any regularity. My goal is to write regularly throughout Lent (hoping that will help me to develop some discipline about writing).
4. Reaching Out. On the days when I don't write here, my hope is to reach out to someone I know to connect. Perhaps the someone might be home bound or struggling, but it may just be someone I love and miss. Sometimes it's the little things make a difference.
So, do you observe Lent in any way? How are you practicing a Holy Lent?