From the Bishop: Lent 2016
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. – The Collect for the Fifth Sunday of Lent
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –
The season of Lent arrives very early this year. The sun is still reluctant to rise in the morning sky and snow still covers our lawns and clogs the gutters of our homes. Ash Wednesday will actually fall in the second week of February. It may seem to have arrived a little too soon for some of us. Didn’t we just get the last of the Christmas decorations put away last week? How can it already be time for the work of Lent?
Regardless of the date on which it begins, the season of Lent is always challenging. And it is more challenging still if we observe the ancient tradition of the Church and take on some Lenten discipline for these forty days.
Yet despite that challenge, it is still in many ways a welcome time of year. There is something deeply satisfying about honestly confessing the brokenness and sin that is part of our human lives – our “unruly wills and affections” as the Collect above has it – and then turning anew to Jesus, to help deliver us from that bondage and lead us into a new way of living and being as creatures forgiven and free. There is something wonderful about taking a journey that though difficult in many ways, will inevitably lead us to the cross, the tomb … and Easter day.
I pray you can find the time and energy both to keep a holy Lent this year. All the inherited patterns of Lenten living that are commended to us – from praying more regularly, to fasting more determinedly, to serving Christ in others more generously – are designed to help us in some concrete way to accomplish the only truly essential work of the season. Will we choose to turn away from every person, habit, temptation or pattern of living that keeps us from being the beautiful creation God intends us to be? Will we turn again to Christ, our only assurance of true joy in this or any season of out lives?
Time to do some holy work! Welcome Lent!
+ Bishop Barker