On Wednesday, March 6th the church enters the solemn season of Lent. These forty days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter have a long and varied history of observance in the Christian church. At Holy Spirit Anglican Church our corporate focus will be on how this season can produce good soil in our hearts as we seek to hear and respond to God’s word.
As introduced at our congregational meeting, our theme this year is the good soil. This image comes from a parable Jesus tells in the gospels (Matt 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). In this story, Jesus describes four different kinds of soil upon which seed is scattered: the hard path, the rocky soil, the thorny soil, but it is only the good soil that the seed takes root and produces an abundant crop.
Most of us recognize that we are not the soil we want to be. We desire to hear God’s word, allowing it to transform our character so they we can bring that word to others, but there are obstacles that are much like the hard, rocky and thorny soil: our own busyness, our worldly cares, and even the stubbornness of our hearts. To stay with the metaphor, we recognize that our hearts are in need of tilling. In tilling a field, a farmer applies a variety of tools to the ground to remove rocks and weeds and other obstacles to allow the good seed to germinate and grow. A similar process can happen with the spiritual field of our hearts.
In the church year Lent provides this time of tilling. Various practices are applied to our hearts so that obstacles can be identified and, by the grace of God, removed so that we might become the kind of people sought by the Lord. Personal practices fasting, silence, confession, meditation, and abstinence from activities which crowd our schedules. As a church we will engage in some practices together. Our liturgy will take on a more somber tone during the season. We will offer other services to provide space for prayer: Morning Prayer on Wednesdays at 8:30am and Evensong at 7pm on Thursdays. We will also have a booklet available with readings and meditations for reflection throughout the season.
On Ash Wednesday (March 6th) we will be invited to observe a Holy Lent. That does not happen on accident. Take some time to consider how you are called to till the soil of your own heart during the solemn season of Lent.