This weekend marks the last Sunday in the Epiphany Season. We listen to the Gospel reading of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain top where his disciple's see him in dazzling brightness. That story forms a hinge in the Gospels. After this encounter with mystery, Jesus starts on his journey to Jerusalem where he will meet his death.
The coming days are a hinge moment for us too in our liturgical life. Tuesday, we hope everyone in our St. John's community will gather for our annual Mardi Gras celebration. After our festive meal, the tone will change. As is our custom, we will burn the palms from last year-- so make sure you bring yours from home! We will begin to reflect on those things we wish to give up, or from which we want to be free, to make a good start to a holy Lent.
Then on Ash Wednesday we all gather to be marked with the palm ashes-- a sign of both our repentance and our mortality. All of us will one day go down to the dust. So, a question for us all as we begin Lent is, what we are making of our lives? How are we using the time we have to make a difference, to live as disciples of Jesus in the world?
Throughout this season, there will be numerous opportunities for reflection and for the three traditional disciplines of Lent-- prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We encourage you to engage a special discipline of prayer during this season on a daily basis. Linked to prayer is study. Find a good spiritual book to read (we can give you suggestions) or spend more time with the Scriptures.
Fasting from food and giving up something you regularly enjoy is a time-honored practice during Lent. Days such as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are particular days of fasting. But also, many people choose to abstain from meat, especially on Fridays and often throughout the season (remember on Sundays these observances can be relaxed).
Finally, fasting should be connected in some way to share what we have with the poor. That's why once again we will have traditional mite boxes available. When you don't eat your favorite food or abstain from a latte at Starbucks-- don't pocket the money you save. Put it in your mite box and say a special prayer to make your small sacrifice an offering to God.
So, as we prepare for this journey, take time to think about what you need in your spiritual life. Remember that we have a limited time on this planet. How will you shine your light in this world as a follower of Jesus?