A Holy Lent
By the Rev. Charlie Dupree

Tomorrow, we begin our Lenten journey . The exhortation in the prayer book reads:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word.

I’ve heard some people refer to Lent as a “downer.” True, it is a season of penitence. It is a time of reflection that prepares us for the great celebration of Easter. But it doesn’t have to be terribly bleak. After all, how many of us wish we had a time to do some serious reflecting on what is important. How many times have we said to ourselves, “I need to get in touch with what matters.” How many times have we thought that things are slipping – that we need to get a new kind of grip on life, relationships, or the joy that God intends for us? This is the season to be honest about all of these questions.

A traditional element of Lent is to adopt a spiritual discipline or practice. The goal of any spiritual practice is to create more space for God and be more aware of God’s presence in your life. Some people choose to let go of things (changing diet, exercise patterns, gossip, etc.). Some people choose to adopt new things (more spiritual reading, more silence and stillness, or new methods of prayer). The important thing is to find something that is a good fit for you – something you think you can actually sustain and even continue beyond Lent. The discipline is there to serve as a home base that will help you be more aware of your relationship to and reliance upon God. (And, remember that Sundays are feast days and you can choose to suspend your fast for the day.)

At St. Paul’s during Lent, we will mark the season in several different ways. Our service will take on a different, more reflective tone. We veil the crosses, mostly, to diminish the “flashy” nature of brass . . . Lent is a season of humility. This Sunday (Lent I), we say together the Great Litany, one of the oldest pieces of liturgy in our prayer book. It covers a WIDE range of humanity’s shortfalls. I am excited to announce that our guest preacher this Sunday is the Rev. Dr. Dorothy Wright, a fabulous and moving preacher. At St. Paul’s during Lent, we will also offer times to reflect on Scripture through the lecture series that Bishop Spong will offer on Sunday mornings. We come together in community through our Lenten Lunch Series with speakers who will “Lean Into Love” and explore the complexity of human relationships. And, our noon services always offer a moment to come before God to give thanks for the beauty of life and to prayer for ourselves, our planet, and our city.

I’m excited to be with you on this Lenten journey. It will be a holy Lent, not because we will make it holy, but because God will make it holy. God will be present as we make our steady movement together with Jesus of Nazareth toward the cross, the tomb, and toward that great day of awakening.

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See you in church,

Charlie+

Rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Richmond, Virginia
Preferred pronouns: he, him, his

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