"Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness;through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
You can read the wonderful admonition about Lent in the Book of Common Prayer here. Click on "Proper Liturgies for Special Days" then click on "Ash Wednesday."
I went to St. Mathias Episcopal Church for an Ash Wednesday service at lunch today. My low rent corner of Church World is nothing like the Episcopalian church in form but shares common theological roots firmly anchored in the Anglican tradition (with special props to John Wesley). I have a deep appreciation for the formality and liturgy of Episcopalian worship. It's rhythm's invite me away from what I'm used to, the language lifts me up to another place, and I feel time is suspended. I know that not the case for everyone, but it works for me.
Here are some things I took away about the life of faith from the experience; more metaphorical than literal:
- Kneeling is very uncomfortable.
- Sharing a common cup is somewhat revolting.
- Waiting for everyone else to catch up is infuriating.
Lent is a space in the calendar of life to work through those uncomfortable realities about the church. As the priest said today, "a time to take inventory of your life." The AA'ers know all about "taking a searching moral inventory of your life." Lent provides the time and space to do that--every year. Am I doing what matters? Am I spending my time in a way that matters? Am I giving myself to what matters? Why we in low church world don't take advantage of this more is a bit puzzling.
I'm giving up junk food for lent. I've realized my diet as of late has tended toward junk food--non-caloric, non-nutrient dense, non-food, food. So what other junk am I letting into my life? 40 days to see and listen...and then...resurrection!