A Time Like No Other … into the Heart of Lent

By Rev. Cindy Marino

This is the second time around for us. We’re passing the one-year mark of negotiating life in a pandemic. 

I remember clearly our discussions one year ago, as we made the decision to cancel worship, the first time in my ministry ever to have done so. Of course, we were sure it would be for a few weeks at most. This past year has, indeed, been a time like no other. 

And now we enter the season of Lent once again. 

This season of Lent is usually one that asks us to slow down, take time, reflect and repent for what we find in our heart of hearts. Lent was established in the early church to prepare candidates for baptism. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had more than enough time to myself over the last few months. I need a different kind of Lent this year. I need a hope-filled Lent, not a penitent one. 

But, perhaps hope-filled and penitent are actually one and the same. Joel 2:13 tells us, “Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” As we reflect and repent, we are humbled by our own weaknesses and failings. Our hearts are rent – torn, broken and grieving for those things that break God’s heart. Broken open, we are ready to receive.  And God is there to fill us, in ‘abounding, steadfast love.’ 

The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, meaning “lengthen,” recognizing the lengthening days as we move steadily towards spring. With spring comes new life, new hope, resurrection; appreciated and celebrated all the more after the deep, dark, and snowy days of winter. 

My hope for you during Lent this year is that you will recognize moments when the eternal God breaks into your day, bringing hope and joy; bringing the confidence that this ‘time like no other’ will, in the end, teach us more about ourselves and our faith; that we will emerge when the time is right to use what we’ve learned to better love our neighbor, to participate with Christ in reconciling the world to Himself, to seek God’s heart in all that we are and do.  

I hope you will participate in all that we provide to lead you to those moments in your time of worship during this season. We began with the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday and will continue by providing the many devotions contributed by our members in the 2021 Lenten Devotional, available each day via email or on our website at peopleofgrace.org/Lent-2021. Worship with us online at peopleofgrace.org/watch or in-person via registration at peopleofgrace.org/in-person. Join us each Wednesday for a time of prayer with our Midweek Break.  Read more about our Holy Week worship opportunities in this edition of Grace Notes.

It is a time like no other to pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” May you be blessed this Lenten season.