This is an invitation to plan for the upcoming season and it's important themes with your whole heart and first and foremost, for you! This season is an invitation to join our siblings and our grandparents in faith to deepen our discipleship, transform our hearts, and open them once again. In this season, we engage in practices, both ancient and modern, designed to open us more fully; open us to the One in whom we find unconditional love, know affirmation for simply being ourselves and recognize the gentle discipline that enables us to refine our behaviors, creating within us our best selves.
This was the journey of Jesus in the wilderness as he rose from the waters of Baptism and set out to find his calling. In some ways, it may seem as though this time in our nation, and indeed our world, has been one long Lenten journey, one long wilderness wandering. And in some ways it has. But in other ways, there are the sustaining moments that in being present, we recognize strengthen us; that practicing faithfulness, kindness, gratitude, and focusing on what matters during this time has deepened resilience and reserves within us. We may not recognize these but must trust these capacities are within us. We should not be fearful to tap these capacities or to rely on them. We should also not be fearful to rely on others with these capacities as we need to.
I attended a meeting recently where the facilitator invited the group to: "Use ritual as our faith gesture," and to participate in these moments even if it they don't always move us as a way to "offer it up and participate in the mystery of things." Wise words!
Leaning into Lent through prayer and journaling, through scripture, spiritual practices, and ritual enable a wilderness transformation. If you'd like some resources for your own journey, and to guide those in your community, below are two useful links with a variety of materials that may provide something you may need or for leading those you serve.
We offer you this prayer as you enter Lent:
Holy One, as we enter this season of traveling through the wilderness, once again, we pray your presence in real and powerful ways. Make yourself known to us in the ashes and the oil. Reveal yourself in the deep listening and in the lament. Assure us as we bury our alleluias that we will once again shout them. Wander with us through these 40 days as we seek to serve in new ways and deny our needs for those of our neighbors. Guide us in the path of joy, even as we struggle with these continued pandemics of CoVid 19, of racism and inequity, of civil struggle. Transform us through the graces of prayer and candle-lighting, through the poetry of scripture, through the headlines that challenge and change us, through the voices of our children. All this we pray in preparation for this time of Holy Wandering. Amen
Karen Ziel is the Assistant Director of the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL) at the Southern New England Conference. She can help congregations and their leaders with tools and resources for assessment and discernment. As a member of ...