The weeks of Lent are ticking by, and I must confess that I find them to be doing so a bit too quickly for my comfort! It feels like Easter is nearly here, and already, I do not have enough time to tend to the season of Lent in the way that I would like to: through prayer, study of God’s holy Word, and through fasting. I am feeling the pressure of the world governed by the tyranny of time as I simply want time to slow down so I can appreciate the gift of the season. I should say that this seems to happen to me every single year as we get closer to Easter. The tyrant called time comes barging in the door just as I am settling into a pattern that is helping me to go deeper in my relationship with God through a return to the basics of a Gospel-based ministry.
About a week ago, we had some 30+ parishioners who gave 90 minutes of their day (a little more for our vestry members) to share their stories about their relationship and encounters with God in the first of three visioning sessions. (I hope you will join us for the other two! You can register here.) We shared stories of moments in worship in which we felt particularly close to God, and we shared stories of those times that scripture and music and the prayers were the mechanisms through which God moved to create a sense of deep, heartfelt relationship between the self, God, and others. We shared stories of how we grew in relationship with God precisely because we gave ourselves into the life of the faith community to which we belonged in a particular moment of a faith journey. It was a morning in which we grew in relationship with each other. It was a morning blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit – even though we were meeting over Zoom.
The relational nature of the time we spent together was a morning of returning to the basics of a Gospel-focused ministry. The basics of such a ministry starts with the foundation of creating and strengthening relational tissue within our parish, our community of faith. It begins with getting to know one another and with hearing each other’s stories about faith, fellowship, and mission. It begins with eyes for hearing and ears for seeing. It begins with opening ourselves up to another and being vulnerable to the other as we seek to learn from the holy wisdom present in the human experience of our parish. In opening ourselves to hear our stories, we are transformed by the Holy Spirit as we hear deep, love-centered wisdom that invites us forward in God’s mission for the parish.
The season of Lent is a season of relationship and of returning to the basics. It is a season that invites formation through prayer, study of God’s holy Word, and of fasting. The fast that I choose for this Lenten season is a fast from the tyrant of time and to be more focused on the ways that God is blessing our parish with the opportunity to grow in relationship with God and with one another. The fast I choose for this Lenten season is a return to the basics of Gospel-focused ministries: a focus on building and growing relationships as we strive to follow in the footsteps of Christ. It is a fast of reconciliation and of affirmation. It is a fast of using my eyes to hear and my ears to see. It is a fast that, had I listened to the tyrant Time, would have passed me by. Thankfully, I am serving in a community of faithful disciples who are willing to give up 90 minutes of a Saturday morning to tell their stories and to call the whole of our parish back towards the basic building block of a Gospel-focused ministry.