Lent. We are in the season of Lent, a time of reflection and preparation in the church year. But you know that.
Lent was a paradoxical time for me as a pastor, and it may be that for you. It was a time intended for reflection, but I was busier than usual with additional worship services and other pastoral work. It was hard to find the time for self-reflection or any other kind of reflection. (In my first two years as a pastor, I thought Lent would be a wonderful time to add extra Bible studies and even more pastoral visits; that was one of my worst ideas ever.)
Lent was a time for additional proclamation of the Gospel, offering opportunities through mid-week worship for sermon series, etc.; at the same time it was a season where I felt I couldn’t really “preach the Good News” in all its fullness, since that was supposed to wait for Easter. I never quite reconciled preaching throughout the whole time “without the alleluia.” It always felt like I was driving a Porsche with the speed governor set at 55. Maybe you’ll find it easier.
Lent was a beautiful, albeit somewhat solemn time, and it was a wonderful opportunity to be with people in their pain or loss, and I treasured that. At the same time I was never totally at ease with the subdued, suffering tone of the season (I must not be wired like Garrison Keillor), and there were times I just wanted to share in people’s joys and sing an uplifting hymn. Waiting until Easter Sunday felt like being a kid waiting for Christmas Day.
Each year I/we spent a lot of time “planning the Lenten season” in the congregation. A lot(!) of time. And yet the whole season was aimed beyond itself, preparing for the Resurrection, and the season of Easter.
So how is it going? How is it to be on internship? How is it to be in the season of Lent? Are you busy? Is the reflection going well? How about the preparation? Are you fully immersed in today’s season? Do you remember that it all points to the future? Are the days longer? If so, is that delight and opportunity, or just more time to work?
How is it these days with you?
May you find life-giving rhythms for life and ministry. May they lead you into deep immersion with God’s people where you are today, and may they serve as preparation and guide to life and ministry in the days and years ahead.