The month of February is interesting on several levels. First, at 28 days, it is the shortest month of the year. Second, it is the month where we begin to feel the end of winter’s grip is at hand and that warmth of spring is just around the corner. Finally, for those of us who are Christians, the Season of Epiphany guides us to make way for the Season of Lent.
There is something comforting about the predictable seasonal cycles in life that we experience. Winter will give way to spring. Spring will give way to summer. Summer will give way to the fall. And finally, fall will usher in winter to complete the cycle. The same is true with our faith. Advent leads to Christmas. The 12 Days of Christmas lead to Epiphany. Epiphany brings us to Lent. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and thus we engage with the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and giving alms.
In South Louisiana, the time after January 6th through Ash Wednesday (this year it is February 22nd) is marked by King Cakes, colorful beads, parades in the streets, and pure unbridled revelry. It culminates with Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the somber start of 40 days (not counting Sundays) of Lent. Lent is a time of penitence. It is meant to be a time of deep reflection. It is an opportunity to get our lives back on track once again and press forward. Lent is also a season to remove the bad habits that have creeped into our lives this past year. It’s like hitting the spiritual reset button so to speak.
People are prone to take on all types of traditional Lenten disciplines in hopes of ending a few bad habits and creating some new good habits. Some will give up alcohol, sweets, or red meat. Some will take on reading the Bible. Others begin modest exercise regimens to develop better health. I personally believe that small incremental changes verses large dramatic changes have the best chance for bringing about lasting change.
Here is what I’m going to suggest for Lent, 2023. The worst of the pandemic is now behind us. Come back to church. Get out of bed on Sunday morning for the six Sundays in Lent and go to church. For a faith community to thrive we need to be intentional about being present with each other. It’s time to come back to church.
Two years of dealing with the COVID virus caused new habits to replace familiar habits. Let’s use the Season of Lent to create something new together. It’s not possible to go back in time and relive the past. It is possible to take the lessons in life that we’ve learned and strive for something better. This year, make a commitment of creating a new habit of being present on Sunday mornings here at All Saints’. For just six Sundays, come back to church.