Lenten activities draw us closer to God

Published 12:25 am Saturday, March 2, 2013

By the Rev. Cindy Howard

Have you noticed the cross with the purple drape on East Three Notch Street, outside St. Mary’s Church? It is a reminder that we are currently in the season of Lent.

This year the church season of Lent, 40 days of preparation for the celebration of Easter, began on Wed., Feb. 13th, as we had ashes on our foreheads as a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality.

Lent offers us a special time for self-examination and penitence in preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is a time when our worship takes on a more solemn and simple tone, and we put away our “alleluias” until Easter Day.

Some of us who observe Lent may choose to “give up” something that is of importance to us during this time as a spiritual discipline and as a way of focusing on fundamental values and priorities. It is also a time when we might consider “taking on” a new spiritual discipline, e.g., reading a devotional book or scripture each day, spending more time in prayer, giving time to a charity, or making a commitment to attend all Sunday worship services during Lent and all Holy Week services.

What is important to remember is that Lent is a meaningful time to draw closer to God and to prepare for the celebration of Easter. It is not a time for self-punishment. And, it is not a time for giving up something trivial or that we know isn’t good for us anyway. It may be fine to give up chocolate or fast food during Lent, but this will likely be more meaningful if we give the money we would have spent on these things to an organization that feeds the hungry.

So, for those of you who are already observing the season of Lent, my good wishes and prayers for a holy and blessed time as you prepare for the Great Feast of Easter. If you have never observed Lent before, it is not too late to commit to a discipline that will draw you closer to God during this time and make you more ready to celebrate the new, abundant life on Easter.

Watch that cross on East Three Notch Street. It will continue to remind us of our Lenten disciplines for a few more weeks, then the purple with change to red and black for Holy Week and Good Friday. Finally, we will see the white of Easter – a reminder of our great joy and thanksgiving for God’s incredible love for us!


The Rev. Dr. Cindy Howard is rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.