Lent is a season for getting back to the basics. It’s the time of year when we take a careful look at everything that fills our lives, and ask ourselves, plainly and simply, if they are helping us love God with all our heart, mind, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s that basic, and also that hard.
In that spirit, I want to invite you to two things this Lent. First, I invite you to consider adopting a spiritual discipline that actually has the potential to change your life. A friend and mentor of mine once suggested that instead of giving up things like soda or carbs for Lent – you know, glorified churchy diets – we should adopt a Lenten discipline we’re not entirely confident we’ll be able to keep, because at least that would mean we are ambitious with our spiritual life. Too frequently we aspire to too little, and then wonder why our spiritual lives seem to lack depth or rootedness. Perhaps, by choosing a discipline that stretches us to the very limit, that demands our full attention and focus, we will find our spiritual muscles strained and stretched in holy and edifying ways. So, this Lent, before you instinctively pick the object from which you’ll fast, ask yourself, is my doing this for six weeks going to help me better follow the cross-carrying way of Jesus? Is it big enough, important enough, costly enough, to actually make a dent on the way I live? If you’re not sure, pray for guidance and consider something more.
Second, in addition to hoping you will make weekend attendance at worship a priority all season, I want to invite you to make the special effort of attending on Wednesdays, too. Because we’ll be exploring the many dimensions of one of the greatest questions ever posed to Jesus in his lifetime, which also elicited from him one of his greatest teachings. After Jesus had been teaching on the greatest of the commandments (Luke 10:29), a man asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied by telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a story with as much power to provoke and inspire as any that Jesus ever told. The man’s question, along with the implications of Jesus’ answer, continues to reverberate in our lives, centuries later.
On Wednesdays, we’ll welcome a series of extraordinary guests who will reflect with us on who some of our “neighbors” really are: people who are our political opponents; people who have been forced to flee their home countries; people who are racially different than us; people who have been sexually trafficked; people who have been part of gangs. The speakers will be remarkable and inspiring, I promise, because each of them have tried to be the Good Samaritan, instead of just admiring him from the safety of the other side of the road.
In addition to the speakers, each Wednesday we’ll walk the Stations of the Cross at 5:00 p.m. using our new set of stations, celebrate the Eucharist together at 6:00, share a meal at 6:30, and end the evening with the solemn beauty of sung Compline at 8:00. Join us for some or all of these offerings each week, as they have the potential to deeply nourish our souls, and strengthen us as we grow throughout Lent and beyond.
As always, I hope you’ll let me or any member of the staff know if we may be of service to you in your walk with the Lord. That goes for if you need help selecting a Lenten discipline, want to make an appointment for private confession, or want to reflect the feeling of the Holy Spirit stretching you in new ways. Come Easter, we can look back with gratitude at a season in which our faithful commitment and the grace of God helped us grow more fully into the full stature of Christ.
The Rev. R. Casey Shobe, D.Min. – Rector