By Paige K Slighter
Barely a month ago, we were under one roof observing the beginning of Lent together at our Ash Wednesday service: we shared a simple meal, worshiped with our hands held high and spent time reflecting as a community. Now more than ever, we recognize what a special time that was.
This year’s Lent is anything but normal, with social distancing and isolation, but it certainly lends itself to an extended time of simplicity and reflection. Catholic priest Father Paul Keller said it well when he posted on Facebook, “We may never again have a Lenten season that affords us so much time to give to the Lord.” For many of us, our super busy schedule has suddenly cleared. We now have the unique opportunity to completely reallocate our hours. It’s like Jesus is sending us a calendar invite and saying, “Choose whatever time works best for you.” While much of the world is in distress, we are being offered an amazing opportunity to connect with the ultimate source of hope: Jesus himself. Below are some ways we can lean into this intimate relationship as Lent continues.
Simplicity: Take a look at your daily schedule. When is a good time for you to sit down in quiet reflection with Jesus? Is it early in the morning when you wake up, before the distractions of the day hit? Is it in the evening when your body is winding down and ready to relax? Is it during your lunch break, when you’re working from home? Is it something you’d like to do together as a family? Maybe you can find an hour that works for everyone. We encourage you to block out this time on your calendar.
Prayer: In Scripture, we see that Jesus openly shared his heart with God. We can follow his example and talk about whatever is on our mind. Jesus expressed all kinds of emotions: joy, fear, anger, hope, peace, grief and trust. The great thing about having this conversation is that it goes two ways. We can speak and listen. When we listen to God, we’re collaborating with him to influence the Kingdom.
- If you’re having trouble praying, read through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.
- Sometimes it helps to write your prayers down in a journal.
- If you’re doing this activity with your family, you can put a large piece of paper up for everyone to write down their prayers.
- For those of us twiddling our thumbs, with nothing to do, it’s important to remember that’s not the case for everyone. Let’s pray for those on the front-lines: healthcare workers, grocery store employees, families homeschooling and working from home.
Praise: Musical worship is another easy way to communicate with God. Through whatever medium we want, we can celebrate God’s victories and share our gratitude. Greg often says, “Worship is simply saying, thinking and expressing what is true about God.” Even if we don’t feel like jumping for joy, we can still speak out the truth of who God is. Worship can change our perspective on bleak circumstances and remind us that God is faithful.
Release: Lent is a time to surrender anything that negatively fills our lives and interferes with our relationship with Jesus. We get it: life was already hard enough without the Coronavirus. This is the perfect opportunity to let go of all that pent-up stress and anxiety. Talk to God about it. Maybe you’ve been acting out of fear and unintentionally hurting others. Ask God what he’d like you to do about it. Maybe you’ve been spending too much time on social media to cope. Connect with God.
Easter is less than two weeks away and it looks like we’ll still be cooped up in our homes. Regardless of our physical location, our hearts will all be together while we fellowship with Jesus. We can still hold our hands high in worship, we can still reflect, and while we may not be able to share a meal in-person, we can make the best of the opportunities we do have. Let’s continue to prepare our hearts for Easter and experience deep intimacy with Jesus.