Gregory Norbet & Kathryn Carrington
PO Box 90
Hanover. NH 03755
The Journey of Lent
From the early years of Christianity, individuals and communities have chosen specific spiritual practices during Lent as a way of preparing to celebrate the Pascal Mystery of Easter: the death and resurrection of Jesus. Fasting, a commitment to prayer, worship and meditating on the Word of God, self-denial, generosity to the poor and disadvantaged continue to be center stage for Christians seeking a greater connection with the Divine. Such disciplines also assist adults who are preparing for Baptism and those returning home to God’s welcome for them within their local faith community. Providing tools and a context in which to experience the anointing of God’s love and compassion, they offer the hope of having one’s spirit rekindled with new fervor and a return to one’s spiritual identity as a follower of Jesus.
How can the season of Lent be for us a new opportunity for repentance and a fresh awakening to circumstances in need of continued conversion and change of heart? Many of us entrust a specific need or aspect of our lives to God with the hope of healing, forgiveness and a new beginning that turns us away from certain dead-ends.
Such committment is born of the desire for a greater wholeness and authenticity. It allows one to have layers and years of blindness, denial and ignorance peeled away and replaced with a transformed heart no longer the center of its own small universe.
Lent holds out opportunities to recognize critical needs of a larger world clearly included in the wide, compassionate embrace of God. The challenge that Lent offers is to let those needs be brought within our own compassionate embrace. In so doing, we give further expression to the ancient practices of fasting, self-denial, repentance, prayer and generosity that move us beyond the limitations of observing Lent as only an individual preoccupation and achievement.
Should you want to broaden your understanding of Lent as a journey to graced possibilities for all of God’s people, I urge you to become familiar with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. The website http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ offers a clear presentation of these goals. They are worthy of profound consideration and deserving of vigorous action by every individual and community that chooses to carry the identity of being a companion of Jesus Christ.
In Lent, we have the possibility of being united around circumstances in the world that engage the heart of Christianity on a very deep level. In these eight Millennium Development Goals, surely there is something for each Christian to become more informed about and then be empowered to take action with others. Perhaps, just perhaps, we will embrace the Cross of Jesus and carry it with him as we stand in solidarity with those in dire need of our notice, our mercy, our caring and our presence. This can only be done with great love, the love that is at the heart of Lent, and the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Children and adults all over the world need our love. This love will not only work miracles, but will also speak eloquently of our belief that, indeed, Jesus has risen and walks among us.
‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’…’Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:37-40 (NRSV)
©2008 Gregory Norbet