“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”–Psalm 139: 23-24
Unfortunately, like my previous attempts at committing to New Year’s resolutions, I too often entered into the season of Lent with good intentions, “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (BCP, page 265.) I’d get a week or two into the approximate 6 week season and either get too busy at work, focus on projects around the house or more often than not come to the realization I just wasn’t committed enough. In retrospect, I believe my intentions were genuine but I failed to have a plan of daily activities of study and prayer that could sustain me. I ran across the above verses from Psalm 139 and am using them as a daily reminder of the commitment I’m undertaking this Lenten season. There are certainly numerous other readings from Scripture that are just as appropriate but this is what I’ve chosen for 2018.
I mention this because I don’t think I’m unique with the struggle of maintaining a consistent habit of prayer and reflection. I’m certainly better at it than I used to be and it’s because I’ve worked hard at incorporating the discipline of prayer and study on a daily basis through praying the Daily Office. This year we have the opportunity to engage the process of self-examination and intentional reflection through the use of the booklet entitled Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John, A Lenten journey for the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane that Bishop Rehberg graciously made available. If you didn’t receive one of the booklets this past weekend, I’d encourage you to register at http://www.meetingjesusinjohn.org and begin receiving the daily emails which include a brief video and suggestions for how to pray the verse each day. Another option is provided by the clergy of Washington National Cathedral who will offer daily meditations during Lent to encourage thoughtful reflection and contemplation. The cathedral’s website is www.cathedral.org.
It just makes inherent sense that if we are to more fully appreciate the joy of Easter we need to encounter the realities of our existing relationships with God and our neighbor. We can use this time to honestly examine our lives in light of God’s Word and, with God’s help, make a commitment to change. Lent is an opportunity for us to separate from the world and all the noise and distractions it throws at us. Those of us that commit to this journey through lent will no doubt enter the Easter season with an increased appreciation for who God is and the life altering reality of the cross and empty tomb. Let’s journey together, one day at a time, through the next 6 weeks with a willingness to be open to hear what God has to say to us and how this time of journeying together changes who we are individually and as a community of faith.