For centuries Christians have set aside the six weeks of Lent to humble ourselves, to simplify our lives, and as is often said these days, to get closer to God. However, it is unfortunate to think we need to get closer to God, because God is as close to us as our next breath. To get closer to God, we need to strip away the clever barriers we build to keep God from getting close to us in the first place.
On Ash Wednesday we hear the solemn bidding to observe “a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word” (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 265). Each one of these is an invitation to shed the noise and clutter of daily life for a deeper focus on the Holy One. They are spiritual practices that lead us closer to God one step at a time.
I encourage you, my friends in Jesus, to observe a holy Lent. Be intentional in your repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Give up some habit you have come to take for granted; take on a new practice that stretches you. Plan right now to be in church for Holy Week (April 14 – 20) and Easter (April 21) to witness, as closely as possible, the mysteries at the heart of our faith. Allow these simple, ancient practices to soak into your soul, to challenge your complacencies, and to shake your spirit awake to the nearer presence of God.
Your brother in Christ,