Lent always seems to arrive before I’m ready for it. But then, Lent is for unprepared people; Lent is all about getting prepared. The forty days before Easter remind us of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry. Lent harkens back to the tradition of the church when converts to Christianity spent the forty days before Easter preparing themselves to undertake the new joys and responsibilities of their Christian faith.
When I was a child, growing up in a church in which observing Lent was not part of our tradition, my only notion of what Lent was all about came from my Roman Catholic friends who didn’t eat chocolate or go to the movies for a month before Easter. So in my young mind, when I gave it any thought at all, Lent was all about “giving up” something. While there is certainly much to recommend such spiritual disciplines of selfdenial, in recent years I have come to find that a “discipline of giving” can be just as helpful as a “discipline of giving up” in preparing for Easter.
Hundreds of years ago Teresa of Avila wrote these words:
- Christ has no body now but yours.
- No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
- Yours are the eyes through which he moves compassion on the world.
- Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
- Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
- Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
I offer these words for your reflection as we anticipate the season of Lent. Finding new ways to give our hands and feet and eyes to the service of others in Christ’s name is not only a wonderful Lenten discipline, but a model for Christian living every day of the year. May God bless you in these days of preparation and bring you to a joyous Easter.