There are times I miss being in a liturgical church. I love the body that we fellowship with now, but during the high holy seasons, I often long for the slower pace and solemn quiet of a service that echoes with Kyrie Eleison and flickers with meditative candles.
I have not always celebrated Lent. Growing up Southern Baptist, we didn’t do kyrie or candles much less a season of fasting and giving up. What would happen to the pot luck supper? It wasn’t until later in early adulthood, after a break with the church ultimately resulted in a reuniting with God in spite of the church that I found another way to worship that moved a deeper spirit in me.
Temple or tabernacle; nave or narthex; God will be found where He will – and He will be found in all of them. He is in these places and others too – waiting for us to turn to Him in acknowledgement of that thing that saves us: His love, His sacrifice, His grace, His mercy.
So tomorrow I will find my way to the still, quiet halls of a church where I visit only once a year. A place that I return to like a pilgrimage at the tide of every Lenten season. There will be soft songs and gentle words of encouragement. An urging to consider real penitence and make it real in our lives. To consider the cost – the cost that was paid, and the cost that is asked of us. We will make a note of our transgressions and nail them; folded, on to a hard wooden cross. In the silence, our names will be read and consecrated with our prayers of contrition as they are placed in a copper bowl and consumed by fire. The ash, mixed with oil, becomes the mark we bear, as we hear the words “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Selah. Pause. And think on this.
So it begins again. The walk into the desert. The desert again. Having been there, I find I am unable to truly leave. Reading Sarah Bessey recently, I found a quote from Jonathan Miller that leapt off the page at me:
Far from being a punishment, judgment, or a curse, the wilderness is a gift. It’s where we can experience the primal delight of being full known and delighted in by God.Yes, and yes again. That was my desert journey. And the Lenten journey I will take again this year. In A Praying Life, Paul Miller writes:
God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden.Perhaps you celebrate Lent. Perhaps you don’t. If you don’t want to give up something for this season, is there something you would consider adding? Something that would make your life richer, fuller, more meaningful. I saw a friend share that intent and appreciated it.
If nothing else, find some time in these weeks leading up to Easter. Find your way into the gospels to see with fresh eyes where Jesus walked, what He said, what He did. Find an encouraging book that translates His words into actions for today: how can you make Him real in your world today?
Whatever you do, take time to find Him.
This is the season friend. Find Him there.
I'm joining Simply Beth for her Three Word Wednesday link up and am looking forward to getting to know this circle of writers. For this link up, choose three words; share a post, photo, or scripture that highlights those three words; link up here; and share some encouragement and blog love with other writers.