it's lent again
We've been talking recently about how we're coming up on a year of living with Covid-19... our last "normal" UKirk, including our traditional dinner together at St. A's Chapel followed by worship, filled with singing and laughing, was the week before Lent started last year. In a way it feels like we've been living in Lent for a whole year. In another way, it feels like we're still processing the trauma of this time last year, while this year's trauma is charging right at us.
Hoping to have a softer approach to Lent, we're using some materials from our friends at Sanctified Art again. Their images and poetry and reflections will surely help give us all space to process and reach toward Easter. We adapted their at home Ash Wednesday service for anyone to do during what's often a busy time of the year! Follow along below:
From dust: an Ash Wednesday at-home liturgy, for February 17th, 2021, adapted, sanctifiedart.org, the Rev. Sarah Are
The beginning of Lent brings a new invitation—an invitation into a deeper life of faith, an invitation to renewed spirituality, and an invitation into deeper awareness of God and self. This liturgy is designed to carve out space for personal reflection and intention setting at the start, knowing that the more honest we are with our hopes for this season, the more meaningful this season can become.
set the space
The year 2020 taught us how much our space matters. Many of us realized how holy our sanctuaries are when we were unable to physically gather in them. However, this season has also reminded us that God does not reside in any one place. God is everywhere—and God promises to draw near to us wherever we may be...
To mark your sacred space, you can try lighting a candle. Maybe find a pillow on the floor to sit on or settle yourself into your favorite chair. Brew some tea, turn on some music that moves your spirit. Contemplate the dust under your bed. Most importantly, turn your phone notifications off so that you can truly be present.
Take a few deep breaths in and out. Repeat to yourself:
I am here. God is here. This space is holy ground.
read & reflect
“From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
This verse—from Genesis 3, a creation story, spoken to us when we receive the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday—reminds us of our honest humanity. So in honesty, make a list of 3-5 challenges you are struggling with, recognizing life is messy and complicated… Name anything that is hard or heavy in this moment. Write these things down on the doodle page (included with the liturgy) or another piece of paper. Challenge yourself to think of the core emotion underlying each challenge. For example, instead of saying, “I’m busy,” perhaps you might confess: “I try to be busy because I worry that others will think I’m lazy.” Name your challenges and your confessions, offering them all to God.
Take a moment to look over your list. Ask God for forgiveness for the things that you can control. Ask God for grace for the things you cannot.
Our God is intimately aware of our humanity and the ways we fall short or get stuck in the weeds of our own problems. Having confessed some of the challenges that weigh heavily on you, read the following poem as a reminder of God’s grace:
I like to imagine that each year, God invites me to a party. God drops me a note that says, “No gifts, casual dress. Come just as you are.”
I like to imagine that I am brave enough to go. I like to imagine that I decide that I am worth it. This was no pity invite, There is no obligatory postage. God wants me there.
So I get myself together, Smudged glasses, sensitive ego, wrinkled shirt, and all. I ring the doorbell a few minutes late on account of the fact that I lost my keys twice trying to get out the door, And I almost turn back to hide in my car, Afraid that I might embarrass myself over appetizers or small talk. But then God answers the door, And God says, “You’re here!” And I smile, because I am.
And with every step past that threshold, I know that God is cheering me on. It’s the pride of a parent watching their child take their first step. If I freeze, God is not disappointed. If I fall, God is not mad. But if I trust the invitation, If I move closer, I know, God celebrates.
Friends, you’ve got mail. It’s an invitation to dust off your shoes, To go deeper, To trust that you’re worth it, To lose your keys and your faith, And then to find them both, along with your worth. You are invited. We are invited. Again and again and again. This invitation is for you.
Having read scripture and poetry, write down 3-5 hopes you have for Lent, in the doodle or on a separate piece of a paper. As you write, consider these written hopes to be intentions that you are setting for the six weeks ahead. These are not intended to be aimless wishes on stars, but instead, thoughtful intentions for your one wild and precious life.
Pray the following words. To make this a kinesthetic prayer, circle or underline any phrases that particularly move you or stand out to you.
God of open doors, Open arms, And open conversations, We know Deep in our souls That you are forever inviting us in. Again and again, You invite us to take another step closer, Another step deeper, Another step further, In this journey of faith. So with your invitation in our hands, We pray for strength and wisdom. Show us the next right step in this journey. We are here. You are here. This is holy ground. May this holy Lenten journey begin Once again. Gratefully we pray, Amen.