It seems like Christmas was just yesterday. (I still have some cookies and a few decorations to put away.) Yet, Lent is almost upon us. It comes early this year. Ash Wednesday, when we mark it’s beginning, is February 10. There will be a service at church at 7 PM.

Lent gives us 40 days, plus six Sundays, to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter. In the earliest church it was used as a period to prepare people for baptism on Easter. Later it became a time of penitence. There are traditions of “giving something up” as a way of sacrificing something even as Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins on the cross. Of course, in this short reflection I’m not doing justice to these traditions and the meaning behind them. However, the discipline of keeping Lent is a powerful way to grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus and help us live more faithfully as Christians.

During Lent this year, I would like to encourage and challenge us to carve out time to be silent before God, listening to and enjoying God. With all the busyness in our lives it’s not an easy thing to do. Even when we take time to pray, we tend to talk to God more than to listen quietly for God’s voice.

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, before he gave them the Lord’s Prayer, he told them, “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

George Maloney, in In Jesus We Trust, writes, “Jesus teaches us that prayer is fundamentally a loving listening to God as he continually communicates his love to us at each moment. We pray when we are attentive to the presence of God.”

When we are fully attentive to the presence of God in our quiet, we will find we are able to be more attentive to God’s presence throughout the rest of the day. I pray that during Lent this year, each of us will take time each day to listen in silence and open ourselves to God’s loving presence. When we do, we will be amazed what God does in and through us.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Anne

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