10/10/1 Making the Most of Lent's Path of Grace
A Reflection by the Rev. Poulson Reed
March 1 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. And so now is the time to be thinking about how to make the most of those 40 days until Easter. Lent is most beneficial when we are intentional about it, focusing especially on the core Lenten practices: prayer, Scripture reading, fasting, and helping those in need.
Our RenewalWorks team recommended in their final report a 10/10/1 challenge for deepening our spiritual lives, and Lent is the perfect time to begin: 10 minutes of prayer, 10 minutes of Scripture reading, and one act of kindness each day. You could use the full services of "Morning Prayer" (Book of Common Prayer p. 75) and/or "Evening Prayer" (p. 115) or the brief “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families” (p. 136) — by the way, the last of these, “At the Close of Day” (p. 140) is a great set of prayers for families at bedtime.
For the 10/10/1 Bible reading, you could follow the Daily Office readings (the Year One readings for the mornings and evenings in Lent begin on BCP p. 952) or just select the shortest of the gospels, Mark, (or one of the others) and read from it. For your one act of kindness, you could do something planned each day, or let God guide you (no day passes without the chance to be kind, if we are paying attention). Share your stories of kindness!
All Saints’ has a bountiful offering of programs in Lent to choose from, as well, as we keep this holy season of preparation together, from our Lenten Thursday evenings with soup and the Saint John’s Bible, to Walking to Jerusalem, to a Women’s Bible Study. Lent is also the most traditional season for individual confession and/or private spiritual conversation with a priest (by appointment).
A final word about fasting. Traditional Lenten fasting disciplines include giving up things we particularly enjoy, for example meat on Fridays, or dessert except on Sundays. Ideally we would take the money we would have spent on those things, and give it to the poor (like buying non-perishable food for our April 9 collection).
But fasting can also be adapted. Do you have unhealthy habits that distract you from loving God and your neighbor? Instead of giving up chocolate, you could fast from Facebook by limiting it to one hour per day, using the time to read or play a game with loved ones. You could limit TV, or gossip, or mean spirited criticism, or judgmental thinking, and fill the time positively. What holds you back from being the person God made you to be?
Lent is a great gift from God: the opportunity to prepare for Easter by training ourselves in holiness, seeking God’s forgiveness for our sins, and turning our attention to God and to others. Let us not miss the start of this path of grace.