Taking time for Lent

A newsletter message written for St. David's Episcopal Church, Kinnelon, NJ

Dear Friends,

Throughout this month, we’ll continue moving more deeply into our observance of Lent, before culminating at the end of the month with Holy Week, and finally Easter Day on April Fools’ Day!  (I keep looking for some clever joke dwelling in the coincidence of Easter Day falling on April Fools’ Day this year, but I’ve yet to find it.  Please let me know if you come up with one!)  But if you were one of the hearty souls who made it out through the fresh-fallen snow on the first Sunday of Lent – my second Sunday here – you will have heard me proclaim that a significant part of how I understand the importance of Lent in our Christian observance, is that it provides for us an opportunity to purposefully shift our perspectives for a time.  We do things like taking on our various Lenten disciplines, to a large degree, so that we can practice this perspective-shifting as a way of preparing for Easter.

The fact is, Easter is the greatest shift in perspective that we experience as Christians.  Before Easter, we knew death to be the final answer of life.  It was the only thing that couldn’t be changed, or overcome.  But through the glory of God in the person of Christ, Easter shows us that even that isn’t final.  To wrap our minds around this new reality – one that is still new to us, even two millennia since its first appearing – requires a significant shift in perspectives.

Michael and I, through moving to Kinnelon and settling into this new life with you, have been practicing this discipline in shifting perspectives in a literal way these past weeks – a discipline that is unlikely to end any time soon.  For us, it really has been an experience of new life.  We’re learning new ways of getting around one another in a new space.  We’re learning new ways of living with one another in our new, married life.

Though this season of perspective shifting isn’t likely to be as literal for most of you as it has been for us, I hope that through it, you are able to find new life.  That is, after all, the promise of Christ: the promise of finding and creating new life.  It takes practice and discipline to recognize it in the world around us, and that’s a big part of why we go to church.  It gives us a safe community where we can practice finding new life, so that when it’s presented to us through this ministry (and mystery) of Christ, we can see it and appreciate it.

I encourage you to consider engaging more deeply with the parish this season.  Lean in to the offerings of the church during this time even more than you do during other times during the year.  Use these weeks as a chance to practice really looking at the world in a new way, through a new lens.  You are likely to be surprised by the ways you’ll find new and renewed life that you’d missed before.