As March arrives this year, we almost immediately find ourselves in what we Christians call the season of Lent. Lent is comprised of the 40 days, not counting Sundays, before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday which falls on March 2nd this year.
It is my project every year to observe a Holy Lent. I encourage you to do so as well. But how does one go about observing a Holy Lent? It is said that we should give something up for Lent – a nod toward the practice of fasting. Some fast from a favorite food item. I have heard more than once someone giving up chocolate for Lent. That is interesting, because for some, I have noticed, eating chocolate can be similar to a spiritual experience! I’m teasing.
Lent should be a time set aside to intentionally examine our spiritual condition. We should ask the same question of ourselves that the members of the early Methodist societies in Great Britain would ask themselves as they gathered to meet during the week. Do you know the question they would ask?
They would ask each other: How is it with your soul?
Imagine some of the answers that might be spoken. I imagine that people spoke confessionally. “I wronged my spouse.” “I shortchanged my customer.”
Those early Methodists may have spoken of their feelings, their physical pain, health conditions, emotionally suffering, or perhaps spiritual dryness. And certainly, they would have reported positive things: accomplishments at home, at work, spiritual awakening, giving glory to God in all. I believe they would have shared the grace received in their walk with Jesus.
Regardless of one’s condition, I am sure that their goal, their prayer was for each of their souls to be well.
Horatio G. Spafford put to verse in 1873 the following:
When peace, life a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and has shed his own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And from this, my impulse in the past has been to re-embrace my faith, to reach out and hold my Lord Jesus as close to me as possible. But I have considered a different tact this year to observe a Holy Lent.
Perhaps I have been impulsive?
As I look around us, what we have experienced the past 2 years, what is happening in eastern Europe, the existential threat of nuclear war, and not least, the dis-ease of disease of my beloved life partner, I am determined, or better, I am resigned to observe a Holy Lent from another perspective this year.
This Lenten season, rather than me embracing my faith, I will submit to allow the faith of Jesus Christ to embrace me. I will submit to allow the love of God to embrace me. I will submit to allow the communion of the Holy Spirit to embrace and re-incorporate me within the body of Christ. How about you? How is it with your soul?
“All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live. …
All to Jesus I surrender; now I feel the sacred flame. O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to his name!”
+ Pastor Jim