It’s the day before Lent, the day when pancakes, donuts, and feasting are the norm. A day when we take stock of what we can let go of and what we can take on to deepen our faith. We’re almost at the beginning of the great 40 days where we hear the stories of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. For some, today is the day to focus on what is to come — getting out the bibles and journals, finding new books on prayer, shutting down social media accounts, cleaning the pantry of sugar and soda, setting aside time for meditation, marking the calendar for extra worship services, finding a service opportunity, connecting with neighbors.
Or maybe it’s just another day. A day to pack lunches and shuttle kids to and from school, practice, and games, another day to pay the bills, fold the laundry, and wash dishes, another day to feed your family, another day to manage tasks and outcomes at work, another day to nurture relationships, another day to feel like there’s not enough hours in the day. Maybe you’re not even thinking about Ash Wednesday and Lent, maybe it’s enough to make it through the next few hours.
Wherever you are and however you feel, Lent is waiting for you. The next season of the church year comes as a gift amidst the worries and anxiety of the world and the blustery weather for those living in the Northern hemisphere. It comes as a gift in its honesty and vulnerability for tomorrow we will be reminded of our death. We begin in the darkness of Ash Wednesday feeling the cross marked on our forehead and from there we move through the 40 days with nothing to fear. For we know that death is no longer ours to fear. If the church can handle death and face it head on, can’t the church be the place to hold our doubts, anxieties, brokenness, and sin?
Even with all the talk about taking on things or letting something go during the season, Lent doesn’t require anything of us other than to pay attention; to be open to the Spirit at work in the world and believing that the Spirit is at work in us.
Lent invites us to be honest letting our hearts lead the way; voicing out loud what keeps us up at night, naming the places we’ve fallen short, and seeking forgiveness.
Lent invites us to turn towards God with our whole being; offering our voices in prayer, gathering for worship, and seeking out our neighbors.
Lent invites us to hear the stories of our faith with new eyes and ears; hearing Jesus’ voice call us to follow him, wondering with the woman at the well who Jesus is, and hiding in the dark of night with Zaccheus.
Lent invites us to be still; to breathe deeply, to sit in stillness, and trust in God’s abiding presence.
Lent invites us to make space for God, others, and our spirits.
Lent begins tomorrow. Whether you’re ready or not, whether you remember or not, whether you believe or not, the season is opening its doors for you. With a wide welcome, hear the voice of God gently inviting you to know you are loved and to place your trust in God’s story.
Here’s to the next 40 days and all the ways God will meet you.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.