A Season of Preparation
“He has filled the empty with good things.” Luke 1:53
The season of Lent is right around the corner, beginning with Ash Wednesday next week. The coming seven weeks are weeks of journeying with Jesus toward the cross on Good Friday and the resurrection on Easter. Historically this season has been one of penitence and fasting, as acts of preparation.
As a season of preparation, Lent shares something in common with Advent. In anticipation of Lent this year the quote above from Mary’s Magnificat, traditionally read or sung during Advent, has been on my mind. I sense an invitation from God to be filled with His good gifts, yet we are already so full. Our lives full of tasks and busyness, our ears full of noise, full bellies, full minds.
One of the gifts of Lent is the opportunity it gives us to empty ourselves. Emptying ourselves quite literally in fasting. Emptying our ears and minds in practices of silence, solitude, and stillness. Emptying ourselves of self-justification through acts of confession and penitence.
These emptying acts can also been paired with acts that fill us with good things, fill us with God’s word and God’s presence. Praying the Daily Office, reading the Gospels, giving generously to others, and engaging in service are all practices that fill us.
This Lent at COTC we will deliberately have some opportunities for emptying ourselves and being filled with good things. We will be hosting a Lunch and Learn on the practices of fasting and silence later this month and we are holding our first ever Silent Retreat in mid-April. Instead of a book for the season I want encourage us all to follow along with the American Lent devotional, centered around repentance and reflection related to racial reconciliation in America (we'll have more to say about this devotional in next week's e-news). All these practices are ways of emptying ourselves. In two weeks time we’ll be having a Saturday devoted to learning about and experiencing the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, and we’ll be talking about different ways to serve in mission in the coming months. Each Sunday in Lent is a feast of sorts as we gather in worship and receive Christ in Word and Sacrament. These are some ways we might be filled with the good things God has for us.
As those living in a privileged society our lives are so often so very full, but full with things that are themselves empty. This season is an opportunity to embrace the gift of the way of the cross as the way of abundant or full life. Let us lay hold of the fullness God has for us.