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The Gift of Lent

by The Rev. Raymond Hess

Lent means various things to different people. For some, it is a very serious season for
repentance, fasting, and prayer. For others, it is a more joyful time of preparation for Easter. Another way to think about Lent is that it is a gift to us from God.

It is hard to be deeply focused on our spiritual life all the time. Our lives are full of
challenges and distractions. For me, Lent is a gift of time to grow in our faith. Lent is similar to Advent as a time of preparation, but it is longer and has a more serious feeling about it. I love Advent, but it always seems to go by very fast. Advent is full of things like sending cards, decorating our houses, and buying gifts. In Advent, we are distracted by the early celebration of Christmas around us, beginning right after Halloween. Lent does not have these distractions. We may have some things to do to get ready for Easter, but not nearly as much as for Christmas. We have the possibility in Lent of really taking some time to be more open to God.

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Our parish mission statement is “Growing in God’s Love.” Lent is the gift of time from
God to grow in God’s love. How might we do this? If your life is already very full of activities, perhaps the best way for you to grow in faith is to take some time to be quiet and still. Taking a walk or listening to music can be ways to focus on God’s presence with you. There are other spiritual practices which can be helpful in Lent – prayer, study, worship, and service for others in need. The Forward Day by Day booklets or other Lenten reflection booklets can be very helpful in your study and devotional practices during Lent. Joining in our Sunday worship regularly is a great Lenten discipline. Lent is also a season for self-examination and repentance, where we can experience God’s forgiveness and new life. Our Prayer Book provides for individual confession with a priest. If any of you would like to do this, please contact me at the church or by email at rhess1947@gmail.com to schedule an appointment.

I am thankful that we are part of Christian tradition that has the observance of the Church Year, with the different seasons. When I understand Lent as a gift, I see the season as a positive opportunity to focus more deeply on my relationship with God in Jesus and on my relationships with other people. As our Ash Wednesday service says, “I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent.”

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