Welcome to Lent.
Today we set off on an annual pilgrimage towards Good Friday, while with every step along the way remaining open to the wonder of Resurrection Sunday.
Each weekday in Lent we will be releasing a daily office; a set of prayers, scripture readings and reflections. You’ll be able to use the daily office in a way that works best for you. You can weave the daily devotions into the time you spend alone with Jesus, or you can draw your spouse or families together for a short time of reading, praying and worshipping together.
As we get used to the rhythm of the daily office together, you’ll notice a few pointers to help you along the way.
Now, let’s begin the journey.
Genesis 3: 1-19, Job 1:21
Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.
If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.
Why can’t it be spring already?
We feel tugged towards newness by the strength of spring, two seasons are wrestling together and we’re caught in the middle. Still in the grip of winter, we feel tugged towards newness by the season of spring.
Longing to rush ahead to the next thing, we tend to push past the seasons, believing that our lives can be made, when in fact they grow. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, sprouting, becoming and abundance cannot complete its course.
Time is needed for winter to complete its work.
In the quiet of winter it can appear that there’s not a lot going on. Yet, underneath the surface, at the level of the root systems, the deep work of preparation for the dawning of resurrection is taking place.
Each year, followers of Jesus take forty days before Easter to embrace a liturgical season that draws us inward in self-examination and downward in humility, as we join the wanderers, the exiles and Christ Himself, in the wilderness – a liminal space of formation, preparation and transition.
Lent is more than just a choice to give something up for a few weeks, it’s an invitation to empty ourselves once again so that we may draw closer to God and live openly towards our neighbour.
Through repentance, storytelling, forgiving and fasting, we allow ourselves to hunger and thirst for righteousness knowing full well that a feast awaits us.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a day where last year’s palm branches would be burned and its ashes rubbed onto the foreheads of those who hear “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” whispered into their ears.
We set off on the lenten pilgrimage with a day of humbling; a day that helps us face facts. For there is a clarity to behold through the nights of late winter.
We see clearly that the fallout from the fall rages on. For all the goodness we enjoy, life still breaks our hearts. The first line of Heaney’s ‘The Cure at Troy’ is a complete sentence. We can’t escape death. In this world we should expect trouble. Existence is fragile. Sometimes the best we can come up with is just admitting that it’s not supposed to be like this.
Either that, or we just groan.
“How long, Lord? How much longer must we wait until there’s no more not yet and only just now?”
Lent also helps us to see ourselves clearly, as we confess that we are not in control, our lives are not linear and we still sin. Lent leads us to repent of our brokenness while at the same time inviting us to turn our faces toward Love Himself.
Love, who is closer than the breath carrying our confessions.
“What if the deeper you know your own brokenness, the deeper you can experience your own belovedness? I wonder if this is the refrain of the believing life: I fall because I am broken, but I rise because I am beloved, and I fall again because I am broken, but I always rise because I am always beloved?”
Through the changing of the seasons we see life and ourselves clearly, but above all, in the practice of Lent, you will find gentle Jesus drawing near to you, beckoning to come away with Him once again. His presence and our belovedness is what Lent brings into clearest view.
We’re caught in the middle of winter wrestling with spring. We’re caught in the tension.
Either we can short circuit the seasons, rushing ahead or we can give ourselves over to clarity, joining Jesus Himself in the wilderness, as He tends to us and teaches us to sing His song in a strange land.
For it is doxology that pushes back the darkness and directs us towards the dawning of resurrection.
The Lord gives.
The Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
All to pray the following words aloud.
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all,
I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands,
I commend my soul.
I offer it to you,
With all the love of my heart.
For I love you, my God,
and I so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Prayer of Charles de Foucauld
If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.
Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.
Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.
“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.
‘The Broken Way’ – Ann Voskamp