Lent begins Wednesday

By Marv Repinski

This year, Ash Wednesday is on Feb. 22, the beginning of Lent. This faith journey is a 40-day period of time.

The greater Austin area is a place of many churches, chapels and worship centers that place the life of Jesus Christ at the center of study, worship and lived-out practice. I say this in sincere respect to other religious persuasions.

We are, in this geographical area of the state, a place of wide Christian confession. A majority of our churches relate in their congregational gatherings and suggested home devotions to the time period that will culminate in the last week of the life of Jesus.

Lent, as a four-letter word, may in these weeks guide our thoughts, prayers and the service to others — for instance, children, the elderly and the people who are new to our communities. Also, it encourages civility and justice.

L: Locating times and places where intentional contemplation of questions such as — “Who am I?” “What purpose does my life serve?”

E: Endurance in the face of some of my struggles; the seeming “odds” that cause upsets and anxiety. Courage founded by a special grace may grow in this season.

N: Nurture of myself and those with whom I share a senior center, club, school, athletic team, music or dance group, and certainly family, is a possible focus.

T: Truth-telling that relates to my group associations, work arrangements, my political views (some may disagree with me — caution — be nice!), and those closest to me, brings health. At least that’s what “they” say! Grandma used to say, “Honesty is the best policy.” Was she correct?

So in a few words, we may spell lent. You may have other words, terms that embrace your application. With Ash Wednesday observed on Feb. 22, many religious services, with Scriptures, hymns, prayers, and witness will form as prompters to a life of faith. Some of those at worship will have the Sign of the Cross placed on their foreheads. The ash that is used, sometimes comes from a previous Palm Sunday service, where those palms have been burned and reduced to ash. The ashes are used to form a cross upon the forehead of the recipient. This act may bring close to the heart of a person, a realization of the fragile nature, the interdependence of life. Others may see in the Sign of the Cross — in ashes — a reminder to live in hope, acknowledging our longevity. Especially now in Lent, our thoughts turn to others. In recent weeks, in the greater Mower County, there have been a number of deaths and serious accidents. For their families, friends, and those who knew them from places of employment, we pray a special healing of the grief. May the gift of spiritual strength bring love to the place of sorrow. From the human perspective, the dreams, fullness, and potential we saw, may not have been realized with a given brief span-of-life.

The Episcopal Church publishes a national quarterly devotional guide for encouragement in a spiritual life. In each issue is printed “A Morning Resolve.” You may find in it words to help shape your Lenten journey:

 

A morning resolve

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.

In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.

And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Marvin Repinski is a minister in the United Methodist Church, now retired. He is an Adjunct Professor at Riverland Community College and a volunteer for several

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