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Dear People of Kootenay Diocese,

“I invite you to observe a Holy Lent.”     

 (BAS page 202)

This is the invitation from the Ash Wednesday service. After marking the end of the Epiphany season this coming Sunday, a season of response to Christmas focusing on our call to God’s mission, we enter into seasons of focus on the other major feast of the Church Year, Easter, celebrating what God has accomplished for us in the Resurrection of Jesus. The Forty days before Holy Week and Easter is the season of preparation for Easter: Lent.  

Forty days, of course, brings to mind the Exodus years of wandering in the desert after leaving slavery in Egypt before entering the Promised Land, years of transition,  of becoming the people of God.  Forty also recalls the forty days Jesus spent “being tested” in the wilderness, between his baptism and before embarking on his ministry. Forty also recalls the forty days Jesus spent “being tested” in the wilderness, the time between, after his baptism and before embarking on his ministry. 

I am deeply grateful for the profound wisdom of this season of preparation in our calendar and recognition that the new life God brings requires transition time and wilderness space to deepen our relationship with God. The wandering People of God in the Exodus learned to trust in God’s providing and guidance. The testing time Jesus had in prayer in the wilderness focused and honed his call, letting go of what got in the way of fulfilling what God was sending him to do – announcing God’s kingdom.  

Behaviour psychologists say it takes six weeks to break an old habit or form a new one. What spiritual practice might you begin in the six weeks of Lent that will help you focus on what new life God is bringing about within you?  (a gratitude journal, meditation, serving in a soup kitchen,  exercise, visiting an elderly relative….)  What distraction that impedes God’s intended fullness of life could you let go of?   (numbing habits like an addictive computer game, time spent worrying, grumpiness, cynicism… ) 

“Penitence” is not about punishment but amendment, practice towards new life. Not dreary but joyful.  We are called to discipline,  (related to being a disciple), focused on God, the life Jesus calls us into. Again, discipline is not punishment but guidance into God’s life-giving way. Observing a Holy Lent is a time of spring cleaning for our whole being, personally and communally.  

A line from one of my favourite hymns, Come and Find the Quiet Centre:

“Find the room for hope to enter, Find the frame where we are freed.”  

May you, in this season of Lent, “find a frame” where you experience anew the joyful freedom of being a disciple of Jesus.  

Yours in Christ,