Church of Our Saviour

21 Marathon Street | Arlington, Massachusetts | 781-648-5962

Reflections of Your Rector

This year Ash Wednesday is February 13. It is possible for it to fall slightly earlier in the year. Nevertheless, it is surprising to think about a Lenten practice so soon after making New Year’s resolutions.

Have you ever stopped to think about how New Year’s resolutions differ from Lenten practices? I think our culture tends to confuse the two. Often, people tell me that they resolved to lose weight for the new year. Then they tell me that giving up chocolate is a great way to lose weight. But is this really the purpose of a Lenten practice?

Lent is not a self-improvement period. It’s not a contest to see how long you can go without your favorite treat. It’s not even about making yourself a better person. Rather, it’s an opportunity to make yourself available to God’s transforming grace. So what does this look like?

Our family bought a jasmine plant last year. All summer long it had glorious fragrant blossoms that perfumed the evening air. It’s looking somewhat ratty now. Much of it is dry. But there are a few branches with soft green leaves.

Ultimately, I can’t make it flower. But I can try to offer it conditions that will allow God’s healing love to transform it into something beautiful. I can make sure it’s not too close to a heat register. I can find a window that will offer it optimal sunlight. I can help it get the right amount of water.

And what about you? Have you thought that you are like a jasmine plant that God is cultivating? What conditions need to be shifted to support the healing work God is doing in you? Do you need to go to bed an hour earlier? What might you give up so you can have that extra hour of rest?

Do you need some time for peace and quiet so you can hear what God is saying to you? How could you schedule this time? Do you connect most easily with God in nature? What could you let go of so you could schedule a hike this lent? Or a morning walk outside?

Or do you sense God trying to heal a relationship in your life? Do you need to unplug so you can really talk to that person? How could you offer God more space to heal another part of your life?

Lent is not a time of self-deprivation for its own sake. It’s not a contest. It’s not about proving yourself. Lent indeed can be a time of spiritual richness. God is ultimately in charge. But you can support God’s healing work by making yourself available.

In the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, you may want to ask God to help you discern a helpful spiritual practice. Focus on where you see God already healing you, transforming you, loving you into a new place. How could you offer God more space or more time or better conditions to do this wonderful work in you?

May you have a blessed and Holy Lent.

Yours in Christ,


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