Lent is early this year, so it coincides with Black History Month for a full 18 days. This overlap of sacred and secular calendars proves doubly sacred for Christians in the U.S. The sacred journey of Lent leads us to the cross—at the end of Jesus’ life of healing ministry and preaching good news to the poor. The sacred journey of Black History Month leads us to the lynching tree—as well as to African American innovators such as the man who developed modern blood storage and transfusion.
On Ash Wednesday, as we remember our sins and ask to be forgiven, let's also remember what we love and ask to love it more.
Spring comes slowly here. We are so deprived in winter—of color, light, smell, vitamin D. Lent is an almost unbearably slow wait.
This Lent, add a journey story to your reading. Follow Gilgamesh to the ends of the earth or the Knights of the Round Table into the forest.
I try not to get too worked up about the commercialization of church holidays. It seems inevitable in our culture, in which most people are at least nominally Christian yet the real national faith is capitalism. The Christmas shopping season is annoying and the Easter candy aisles are dangerous, but it seems futile to rail against things that are more symptom than illness. It is pretty perplexing, however, when marketers try to capitalize on Lent.
I've been enjoying CCblogger Rachel Hackenberg's Lenten sermon series posts. She offers several, separate ideas: on the question "Who do you say that I am?" (following the Narrative Lectionary's readings from John), on prayer practices, on "Lift High the Cross," on the paintings of Anneke Kaai. But my favorite is Hackenberg's series on the Revised Common Lectionary's Old Testament readings.
My Lenten practice has almost involved some kind of endurance. As a child I usually gave up something like chocolate or sweets. My practice evolved into committing to walk to the grocery store or buy nothing but food or, one year, give up plastic. But regardless of what I took on or gave up, I have always intended for this to last through all of Lent. The practice ends—or finds a new form—at Holy Week, and the endurance test ends with it. This year, Lent has an entirely different rhythm for me—because of a book by writer and Benedictine oblate Paula Huston.
The church of my childhood paid no attention to Lent. The season's words sounded too mystical to us, too strange and too Catholic.
Sustainable Lenten disciplines anticipate an Easter in which they will continue. But surely Easter hope is for something more.