I am going to do a thing I have not really done before, and that is start talking about Lent three weeks before Lent even begins. Lent is a season of penitence, a season characterized by solemnity and self-reflection with motifs of sin and death thrown in for good measure. And you might be asking, “why, given all that we have gone through, are you rushing headlong into the season a good three weeks ahead of time?”
Part of the reason has to do with Ash Wednesday. I have done a lot of pondering about how to safely administer ashes to people’s foreheads (the common, traditional manner of beginning the Lenten season) but barring my finding a large stash of six-foot long Q-Tips really can not see a way to do it except by providing ashes to you and letting you administer them to yourself and/or members of your family.
As such, I have been thinking a lot about how to give guidance on ways—meaningful, authentic, spiritually appropriate ways—to observe this Lenten season. After a lot of prayerful deliberation, I am going to make this suggestion:
Seek forgiveness for a wrong you have done to someone else.
This is, I know, a huge task. It is complicated and emotionally charged and difficult. Which is why I am not just throwing this out on Ash Wednesday as a casual bit of advice about Lenten disciplines, but instead want to intentionally have a conversation with you to help you prepare for this in advance.
So for the next few weeks, both my sermons and my newsletter articles will be on the topic of forgiveness, particularly asking for it: why it’s important, what does it really mean, and how do we do it. My hope is that by the beginning of Lent we all have more tools in our discipleship toolbox to engage in this process which is foundational for not only establishing real relationships with God and other people, but healing the world as well.
Yours in Christ,