Preparing for Lent – Reflection for 9 FEB 2020
This Sunday marks the beginning of the preparation for Lent. In some liturgical traditions, the liturgical color changes to purple and a preparatory version of Lenten disciplines might begin on this Septuagesima Sunday. While we will retain our green paraments until Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, it may be helpful to begin considering the ways we might prepare for Lent.
For those of us who did not grow up in a tradition that celebrated Lent, this preparation may simply begin with considering the season of Lent. The Prayer Book describes Lent as, “a time of penitence, fasting, and prayer, in preparation for the great feast of the resurrection.” These Lenten disciplines prepare us to more fully experience the Joy of the Easter season, just as the reminder of our mortality in the ashes at the beginning of Lent prepare us to rejoice in the new and eternal life we celebrate in the Resurrection. Over the next three weeks, we will consider these disciplines of penitence, fasting, and prayer in the Sunday reflections, but I will broaden the terminology and opportunities by describing simplicity, humility, and piety.
Those of us who have encountered the extended “voluntary” deprivation of training exercises or deployment have a keen understanding of the impact of the discipline of simplicity. Nothing makes you appreciate the simple pleasure of a hot shower, a home cooked meal, or a soft bed than several weeks or months without one. In much the same way, the discipline of simplicity tunes our senses to appreciate the blessing that is ever present in the small things of our everyday life. We might practice simplicity by traditional fasting on specific days or from certain foods during the Lenten season, or we might consider taking on the simplicity of a daily family meal without the interruption of phones or the distraction of television. We might consider embracing the simplicity of buying less or donating some of what we have to Christian Assistance Ministry or another charity. Or, perhaps there is another way in which you might intentionally and prayerfully exchange busyness for simplicity.
I invite you to prayerfully consider a practice of simplicity to begin this Lenten season.