From Rev. Catherine Williams: As I write this note Lent is on my mind. This is the time of the liturgical year I think of death and renewal. The dry, barren woods behind my home remind me that nature is in her own necessary cycle of death and renewal, even as Lent approaches. What images does Lent conjure for you? As a child growing up in Anglican schools the images of this season were markedly somber: fasting, deprivation, denial, meatless Fridays, penitence, confession, and lots of songs in minor keys! It was all about traditional piety back then. As an adult however, I’ve learned to lean into Lent more purposefully. Leaning into Lent means preparing to strip down my faith to its bare essentials. I don’t always succeed but the process always yields a healthier spirituality.
This year our mid-week Lenten meditations invite us into a fresh experience of the wilderness. We can lean into Lent as we take the journey from our cultivated daily landscapes into the uninhabited places of prayer, fasting, study, or whatever spiritual discipline is most meaningful to us at this time.
Our Lenten sermon series, starting February 17, looks at the “I am” sayings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel according to John. Jesus identified himself in these sayings as the Light of the World, the True Vine, the Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door, and the Resurrection and the Life. These are powerful nodes of spiritual encounter that invite you and me to fertilize and prune our faith during this season of death and renewal. I hope you’ll take this invitation to heart and join us on this grace-filled journey as the Spirit leads us towards wholeness and healing. As we lean into Lent together, I offer for our meditation this hymn of prayer from Charles Wesley: (UMH #410)
I want a principle within of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, a pain to feel it near.
I want the first approach to feel of pride or wrong desire,
To catch the wandering of my will, and quench the kindling fire.
In Lenten simplicity.