I love the season of Lent. Lent is a period of time in the church when we reflect on our lives, how we live our baptismal covenant and what it means to be forgiven, what it means to have the opportunity for second chances, and new beginnings.
With the atmosphere in our government and even in our denomination, I don’t know about you, but it seems we may need Lent now more than ever before. Yes, I think we need Lent to be transformative in so many ways.
Perhaps this year one way we can observe a Holy Lent is to make use of the rituals of our church. Rituals cause our faith to be formed through the words spoken and the symbolic actions used.
- Lent begins with the ritual of the Imposition of Ashes – Listen for how the words of the ritual remind us that we are all human, fallible, and in need of forgiveness. Carry the ashen cross on your forehead with an awareness of the sin you have committed. Name it before Christ. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation from God and the people you are alienated from.
- On Palm Sunday let the ritual of the Triumphal Entry move through your heart. Consider the times when you have hailed Jesus as savior, shouting, “hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Then reflect on how quickly or easily you abandoned all of that creating division by your own words and actions.
- The ritual of communion on Holy Thursday brings us to a place where we find ourselves seated together at table, with all of our differences. We may be aware that we may not always find common ground, but at the table we can find higher ground that transcends our differences through the example Jesus gives us, washing the feet of his followers, serving bread to the one who would betray or abandon him.
- Good Friday is a painful ritual of recognizing that Christ carried the ultimate penalty for the sins we have committed. Don’t let this be a story told in the past. Step into the story yourself. See where you are in the crowd.
- Holy Saturday find a place to walk the Stations of the Cross or a Prayer Labyrinth. Let each step be a slow and meaningful ritual. See yourself moving from separation to reconciliation. Start with a sense of personal confession and walk toward forgiveness and new beginnings.
- Allow the Lenten rituals to prepare you to experience the message of Easter in a different way this year.
Lenten rituals have the power to transform our conflicts, heal relationships, and guide us in living our best lives possible. They become transforming and formative for us and for the world when we begin to recognize that they provide a place to name and engage our conflicts and practice reconciliation.
What might happen if we took our Lenten rituals liturgy seriously and allowed ourselves to be formed into people who share the word of reconciliation and practice the ministry of reconciliation? How might our churches be different? How might we move toward May’s General Conference more gracefully? How might we engage our world, with the awareness that we are called to be a courageous church: loving like Jesus – acting for justice – united in hope?
I invite you to join me in experiencing a Holy Lent. Together, let us be transformed by the rituals that prepare us for resurrection Sunday and new beginnings.
See you Sunday,
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; — 2 Corinthians 5:18