“Is not this the fast that I choose, to loose the bonds of injustice….
to share your bread with the hungry…?” (Isa 58:6-7) …
“The sacrifice that is acceptable to God
is a broken spirit//a broken and contrite heart” … (Psalm 51.17) …
“ tear your hearts and not your clothing” (Joel 2.13)
In the scripture texts above, two prophets and a psalmist prophets and a psalmist call us to begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. They call us to ancient rituals and spiritual practices of repentance. To repent is to come to God with a need for change, with, hopefully, a humble need to turn around in some way and get back on a better path of relationship with the Holy One. Repentance does not mean beating ourselves up with unproductive guilt. It means opening our hearts to transformation.
What needs transforming in your life, in your heart and mind this year? How do we enter the repentance of Lent this year – after the pandemic and political trauma of the last 11 months – heeding the call of the prophets and the psalmist to fast with social justice, to bring a contrite heart ready to be torn open with Love?
We find time to be with God and one another in gentle, humble ways. We lay down expectations of what needs to happen next and learn to wait for the surprising ways the Holy shows up to transform us from the inside out. Waiting with patience for “a slow wind to work words [and works] of love around us as an invisible cloak to mind our lives" as the poet, John O’Donahue, reminds us to do in his poem, “Beannacht.” We go slow and steady as we continue to move through this tedious pandemic, as one by one we are vaccinated, as bit by bit we are able to come back together in community. We slowly, steadily and faithfully repair the breaches of racism, incivility and hatred in our country with education, understanding and communication.
To help you in your slow and patient journey through Lent this year:
May we all find ways to answer the call to Lent, to open our hearts to God’s surprising changes, to turn around and find a new way home to our center in the heart of the Holy One.
With you on the journey,
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Read more