In today’s first reading from Joel (found here), we the Lord says “return to me.” We are asked to return with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Later on we read “Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly; Gather the people”.
As we begin Lent today and receive ashes, we begin a season of penance. This can be lived out in a variety of ways. The well known ways include not eating meat on Fridays, and giving something up for Lent. Allow me to suggest some other ways we might observe this season.
“Gather the people”… Nothing, especially everyday life, is easy alone. Consider connecting with people you have not connected to in a while… reach out! Find a Lenten buddy who you can talk with about your experience of God or pray with during the season. Maybe start a small group where you are!
“Proclaim a fast”… giving something up for Lent can be a practical symbol of your dedication to not only “fast”, but to look more deeply at your relationship with God. In Lent we seek penance, but this time can be an opportunity to come to God with other prayers (not just asking forgiveness). As we give something up, let us consider adding extra time for prayer to our schedule. Prayers of thanksgiving, special petitions for those around us, a walk with God outside, or silent mediation.
“Then the Lord was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people”… God’s relationship with the his people in the First Testament was a covenant relationship. Let us remember that God is merciful to us in this relationship. Lent is not a “beat yourself up” season. It is a season to remember that relationship with God is based on love, commitment, and reflective prayer. We do our part and try to be mindful of ways we can better enter into this relationship.
What is Lent to me? How will I approach Lent this year? Include more time to pray this Lent. Can I reach out to somebody this lent?
If you want to go deeper with this reflection, check out our Going Deeper page.