The First Sunday of Lent, the moment when many Episcopalians (at least) encounter the drastic change in the tone, tenor and feel of Sunday worship. This transition from Epiphany to Lent is perhaps the most dramatic tonal shift in our Prayer Book worship tradition, as radical life-changing transitions so often are. Yes, we are supposed to notice the often predictable and familiar patterns of Epiphany screech to a halt, replaced by more somber music and more penitential praying.
Is there still room in our lives for any narrative which invites sober inner reflection, searching self-examination and searing personal confrontation?! Today’s readings lay out the human condition quite clearly. I see nothing around us to contradict the Christian scriptures’ great themes of human fallenness, paradise lost, God’s salvific rescue, and the Holy Spirit’s explosive power enacted as grace, forgiveness and redemption of broken souls transformed into living reflections of Christ’s divine nature. The entire story is right here, today. Do we have the courage to find ourselves in it?
- Have we ever conducted a searching, sweeping personal inventory of our own sinfulness, fallenness and personal wounding which collude to keep us distracted from living love?
- Have we ever taken complete, unequivocal responsibility for our own thoughts, actions and things done and left undone in the affairs of our own lives?
- If God could redeem just one element of our lives today, who or what would that one element be?