Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
Lent is not a season for mourning; it is a season for renewal. Look at the land around you at this time of year. It is resting under a blanket of snow, but just beneath the snow are powerful stirrings of life—renewed life—making ready to burst into a glorious and fruitful spring. Indeed, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, this season is known as the Lenten Spring.
Lent is a fallow season. It is a time when we look inward to the state of our soul. Even our souls need renewal, and the season of Lent calls us to introspection and self-examination so that we may see the work that needs to be done to make us again whole, complete and fruitful in our faith. It is a season to open ourselves to the powerful, healing love of God through Christ Jesus.
Lent is a season to repent—literally to “turn around”—to see where we have been that we may better know where we are headed. It is a season to turn to Jesus and offer up all that weighs us down: our grief, anger, isolation, self-pity, dissatisfaction, envy, un-forgiveness and resentment. Jesus invites us to give him these burdens to bear so that we are freed to take on his burden—the burden of a discipleship filled with love, faith and hope.
Lent is a season for letting go, that is, of letting go of what stands between the way we have been going and the way Jesus bids us to go. This Lent, start to let go of the concerns and burdens that we have taken upon ourselves. Turn off the TV or get off the web for a little while, and in those quiet, fallow moments, think about what is truly important to you. Think about where you have been going, and think about where you would like to be going. Then pray that the Spirit will guide you to new paths and new ways of living.
Look in your hearts and souls for those first stirrings of new life. Then, nurture those stirrings and give them the time, space and food that new life needs to become vibrant, strong and fruitful. Nourish your rested souls with the renewing waters of baptism and the life-giving food of the Lord’s Supper. Be regular in prayer, and be regular in silence. Open yourselves to the new venues God has prepared for you, and with renewed commitment, ask Jesus to give you the courage to follow where he leads you.
Then renewed, forgiven, healed, offer your very best to God in the glory of Eastertide. Resurrect your spirit and your soul to new life in him who rose on Easter that we might live forever in his loving grace. Set aside your old self and embrace the new life you have received through your baptism into Christ’s death and mighty resurrection. Be reborn into the Baptismal Covenant and renew your promises to love and serve God as we love and serve others. Let us go forth into the world in the power of the Spirit!
Almighty and everliving God, who in the Paschal Mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Book of Common Prayer, page 223