Director’s note: Jean Uhlig, director of worship at All Saints Anglican Church in Amesbury, Massachusetts, provided her music team a Lenten devotional written by Jordan Ware, the former worship leader at All Saints currently serving at Winchester Anglican Church in Virginia. We are reprinting the devotional here to share with a broader audience.
A Lenten Devotional
I am beginning to understand that the fundamental purpose of Lent is to examine our relationship with God, kind of like a spiritual check-up. How are we living the gospel out in our daily lives, in our churches, our neighborhoods, our homes, where we work? What areas of growth and renewal should we celebrate with thankfulness and joy? In what ways have we fallen short, grown cold-hearted, become stagnant, and failed to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength? All good questions to ask in Lent.
Historically, Lent was the season of preparation for those who would be baptized at the Easter Vigil. So, this can be a season of preparation for us as well. It is a choice to observe or not. Since Lent is fundamentally connected to the meaning of our baptism and our formation in the Christian faith, it is a ideal time to take on a spiritual discipline such as joining a Bible study; taking a retreat or quiet day with just you and the Lord; committing to pray with/for someone on a regular basis; reading through Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer alone or with friends, roommates, or family. We can also follow the Lenten tradition of “giving up” something. Now, stick with me here…I know there is quite a lot of baggage that goes along with this idea. But a Lenten fast is not about giving up chocolate for 40 days. It’s about finding out what is separating you from God. For some, that might very well be what they are eating or drinking. For others, it might be something they are watching or reading or activity in which they are participating. Maybe it is the act of keeping busy, making it difficult to hear the Lord speak to you. Ask God to show you what you might “take on” or “give up” in order to turn away from falling short and be renewed by his power and presence in your life.
In the Ash Wednesday service, the opening reading is Isaiah 58:1-12. This is a powerful message from God about fasting. It opened my eyes today as to the kind of fast we should choose, as well as the motivation and attitude with which we make our offerings to God. Here is a portion of it. This is God speaking…
“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
I hope that you can make it to an Ash Wednesday service [Feb. 22]. God promises us in Jeremiah 29:12-“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
May this Lent be a season of renewal and growth for all of us.