Lent Comes

Lent has come.

And so I found myself seated in the back of the local Episcopal Church. Because I am not pastoring a church anymore. I concluded my second call on Sunday. It’s over — just before Lent was to begin. I’m trying hard to resist the joke that I gave up being a pastor for Lent. Because it’s not true. I’m still a pastor. I’m just not serving a church right now. So, I found myself being led by an unfamiliar liturgy in another Christian tradition.

Listening to familiar words in an unfamiliar space, I heard something I hadn’t heard before in the readings for this day. This reminder over and over again to change. Or as the homily mused: be reconciled. Be reconciled as it says in that first verse in the reading from the Second Letter to the Church in Corinth. And this is about change. Change your heart and your mind. Change your very being. Perhaps that means we should stop doing things like our giving patterns. Or change the way we pray as it says in the reading from the Gospel of Matthew. But, especially in this season, I am not sure what to change. I’m not sure how to change. Because everything feels like change.

Because I am without a congregation and am not sure how I want to live into this possibility of resurrection when I don’t know where I will be on Easter Sunday whether I’ll be at the wedding of a dear friend or celebrating with my family or somewhere else, I have been uncertain about how to approach this season. Because I am without a congregation to lead and uncertain where God will lead me, I am not sure what to do with this admonishment to be reconciled. And because I am not sure I do not know how to practice, but I know that I will need something to guide me through this season. So I’ve been searching for ideas which led me to find Rachel Held Evan’s 40 Ideas for Lent where she mentions how she once “committed to rising just before dawn each day to pray.” I like this idea. Because I hate it. I love sleeping in. I love sleep. I don’t want to give up my sleep and this might just be the very reason I need to do it — but maybe not before the sun rises. Maybe just waking up earlier than usual is enough. Waking up early and allowing myself the space to do morning pages.

Sure. We’ll try that because as I live into these new (im)possible things, I really want to write more but I need to practice my way into that possibility — and I need partners. So, I’ll also be reading Rachel Hackenberg’s Sacred Pause. I had mostly decided this before worship this afternoon — but sitting there in that space, I hadn’t realized how much I needed to hear from Holy Scripture. I’ve been in the practice of preaching every week which has required me to engage with Biblical texts each week but I won’t have that for this season. Hearing all of the readings for this day, as the Episcopalians tend to do, I was reminded how much these words mean to me and how much I need to struggle with them. So, no matter how word weary I might be, I’ll do morning pages with a slight twist. I’ll pull out an old friend and start my morning first with coffee then with scripture before I let my pen flow for three pages until the resurrection comes.

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