Not the Lent we planned

Approx. read time: 1:45 min., plus reflection questions.

Ash Wednesday feels like a long time ago. Life was normal back then. Or at least, predictable.

I remember the day I slashed my way through my Google calendar. Click. Click. Click. Appointments? coffee dates? gigs? Gone. I was stunned, with no time to say goodbye.

My grieving feels appropriate to this season of Lent. It’s just not the kind of grieving I had in mind, when I could choose what to grieve over.

Hardest for me is separation from my worshiping community. The celebration, the remembering, the rich communion with fellow believers in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord. The outpouring of Spirit. The shared anointing into the mission of the reign of God in the new week.

Some of us seek our beloved forms of worship virtually, in our search to be connected. We engage holy imagination via internet technology.

But the Lent God has in mind …
Personally, I cannot go to virtual liturgy. For me, technology is not a panacea, not now. Instead, I must embrace a form of fasting I did not choose.

In a “normal” Lent I sacrificially fast from what pleases me most. But this year God is in charge of the terms of the fast, not me.

This Lenten season of fasting from Eucharistic celebration is a communion—of global church in a time of severe testing, sorrowing, purification.

The Lent which God has in mind, in this season of C-19, will extend into the Easter season. And Church—despite streaming services—will be enveloped in a sobering silence, just when most joy and promise should be breaking loose.

The Israelite’s had forty years of sobering silence in the wasteland. Forty years! And God was with them. (And yes, they complained.)

The point of this Lenten fast? It’s to one day—by God’s timing, not ours—celebrate the Feast, with a wild and holy joy, streams of gratitude flowing from the Temple. Not virtually but in person, in the flesh. Writer Annie Dillard warns that we should all be wearing crash helmets!

I urge you, with all my heart, to embrace this season of fasting. Be sobered. Be hungry. The One for whom we hunger is already embedded in our flesh. His blood flows in our veins. His Spirit is the breath within you.

Reflection questions

  1. How does human and societal suffering in this season of C-19 shape my Lenten prayer? And how does this Lent clarify my sense of my own vulnerabilities?
  2. Am I trying hard to “virtually”stay normal by streamingonline worship services? What is this experience like for me?
  3. Am I undergoing the deep and purifying work of fasting in preparation for the Feast?

I’d love to hear from you!

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