Is it just me, or does Lent feel different this year?
As we pass the one-year mark under the grips of the COVID pandemic, I can’t help but think “where was I when…?” For example, I realized that this week marks one full year since my last business trip – the longest I have been home without interruption in over 20 years. That’s pretty minor stuff in the grand scheme of things, but it’s one more indicator of the many, many ways that the pandemic has altered my life and the way that I think about myself, my relationships and my work.
If Lent is a period of reflection during which we draw ourselves closer to God in preparation for Christ’s resurrection, then I can’t help but feel that the past year has been a similar period of reflection that has prepared us for a deeper, more meaningful observation of Lent this year. We have endured periods of grief, anxiety and abstinence. We have mourned with and served others with compassion through disease, social unrest and natural disasters. We have reflected, worshipped, adapted and prayed together. And if that isn’t the very definition of drawing ourselves closer to God, then what is?
Do you remember the “Christmas Star” we witnessed on the Winter Solstice last December? Think of the magical arc of that starting point as we began the season of Christmas, followed by Epiphany and now as we work our way through Lent. The Winter Solstice is not the depth of Winter … it’s the beginning of the lengthening of our days – the return of the light – and there are definitely signs that we’re beginning to see some of that light! Most importantly, we have now three viable COVID vaccines available. Closer to home, have you worshipped online with us since the installation of the new A/V system in the sanctuary? It’s an amazing difference! And plans are in the works to resume operation of our beloved preschool this Fall.
It’s been a hard year for sure. But, this Lenten season provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve overcome during the past year, and to strengthen our faith in the hope of better times to come. I, for one, am looking forward to walking our Lenten labyrinth very soon, and hope to see you there.