Brothers and Sisters:
We set out today on our Lenten journey. The most common reason given for this Lenten observance is that it is the Church’s way of preparing for Easter. To properly celebrate the great days that come at the end of the season, serious preparation is required. We prepare ourselves, in the first place, by practicing the disciplines of the Christian Life. In this regard, we pay special attention to the disciplines highlighted in the Ash Wednesday Gospel, ALMSGIVING, PRAYER AND FASTING. Some have chosen to refer to these as disciplines as “THE THREE PILLARS OF LENT.”
It is a journey in which everyone is expected to participate, from the very young to the very old. This includes our Sunday School, our Youth Fellowship, our Young Adults, and all other members and prospective members. We use ASHES to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of everyone who comes forward, to indicate that we are all ready to begin this journey. We also use words when making the sign to remind ourselves that it is a time to turn to God (Repent and believe the gospel), and to remind ourselves also that we are mortal (Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return), but we also link with the use of ashes, death and resurrection, our death to sin and our rising to new life in Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of our baptism, so Easter is a special time for all of us who are Easter People. That is why we renew our baptismal vows at Easter. Exciting times are ahead for those who prepare well.
Beyond the preparation of ourselves, we need also to prepare for all the other elements of the celebration. The choirs, the dancers, the servers, the steel band, the action group, the Sunday School, the Youth all the other organizations needed to work hard to make the celebration a time of wonder and of joy.
We need to become a Praying Church. Let us all see this Lent as a privileged time for prayer. It is not a call to ignore the importance of fasting and almsgiving, but rather to place prayer at the centre of our attention. We must strive to learn more and more about prayer, and to engage more actively, and intentionally in the practice of prayer. There are some lessons that we can learn from revisiting what the Catechism has to say about prayer and worship (pages 405 to 407), but we will go beyond this to explore other sources, so that we might arrive at a fuller understanding of the pathways of prayer, and to make prayer the stand out feature of our daily walk with God.
Let us ask ourselves these two personal questions. The first is, ‘What portion of each day do we give to prayer?’ And the second is, ‘What space do we give to adoration, thanksgiving, penitence, supplication, intercession and listening, in those periods allocated for prayer?’ It is my prayer that your answer at the end of the season will be much different from the answer that you honestly give at this time.
Think on these things!