Lent is coming up!
Soon we enter the 40 day season of preparation for Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, as we receive ashes in the shape of a cross on our foreheads. The ashes remind us simultaneously of mortality, repentance and baptism. Mortality because life is short and it is important to focus on what is truly important; repentance for the ways that we have failed to love God or our neighbor; and baptism, the blessed reminder that we are united with Christ, loved and forgiven.
In the ancient church, those who were preparing for baptism fasted for the 40 days before they were baptized at Easter. On Ash Wednesday, the liturgy includes an invitation to observe Lent with “self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
The purpose of Lent is to prepare for Easter by examining our lives, spending more time with God and seeking to model our lives on Jesus more and more. Lent may be observed in a variety of ways. We may take on a new discipline of prayer, reading Scripture, giving alms or giving up something that distracts us from God.
As a parish. we usually take up a special collection at Lent and this year, we will be collecting for Food for the Poor. Fr. Bruce Torrey will be preaching about the amazing work Food for the Poor does to alleviate extreme poverty and hunger on March 10th.
We are also inviting everyone to focus on the care of God’s creation by using less plastic.
I’ll be doing a book study as well on Creation and the Cross: The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril, by theologian Elizabeth Johnson. In this fresh creative approach to theology, Elizabeth Johnson asks how we can understand cosmic redemption in a time of advancing ecological devastation. In effect, how can we extend the core Christian belief in salvation to include all created beings. Immediately this quest runs into a formidable obstacle: the idea that Jesus’ death on the cross was required as an atonement for human sin—a theology laid out by the eleventh-century theologian Anselm. Constructing her argument (like Anselm) in the form of a dialogue, Johnson lays out the foundations in scripture, the teachings of Jesus, and the early Church for an understanding that emphasizes the love and mercy of God, showing how this approach could help us respond to a planet in peril. You can ask your local bookstore to order it or find it online at Amazon.