by Father Andrew Sherman
Lent is the holy season that leads us into Holy Week and Easter and prepares us to receive afresh the message and meaning of the abundant, eternal life promised to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Growing up I often considered Lent to be something of a gloomy time–we were encouraged to give up candy or some other special treat. The steel gray overcast winter days of February and March in New York enhanced this feeling. But we spiritually soldiered on and awaited the melting snows and fragrant lilies of Easter morning.
In recent years, I have viewed Lent more as a time to pray for God’s grace to readjust and realign the patterns of my life to reflect more fully God’s life in me. It serves as a season, to use a gardening metaphor, to till the soil of my life, to pull out the weeds and to prepare my heart for the new life God implants in us in Jesus.
This year I invite the entire congregation to join me in this good and holy gardening of lives. On Sundays in Lent starting on February 14, after the 10 AM service, and on Wednesdays in Lent starting on February 17 at 7 pm, we will offer a six session Lenten series entitled “Growing a Rule of Life.” This series was developed by the Brothers of St. John, an Episcopal monastic order based in Cambridge, MA and Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for the Ministry of Teaching. A “rule” of life might at first seem a little off putting. We tend to chaff and challenge rules — one might say it is part of our American character. But in the monastic tradition, the word rule implies a regularizing, bringing order and intentionality to our lives, especially our relationship with God. To return to the garden image, a rule of life can be thought of as a trellis that allows a plant to climb, grow upward to the light, bear fruit and flourish. In other words it offers necessary and life-giving support. This is how a rule of life can function in our lives.
Here’s how to participate: sign up for either the Sunday or Wednesday class led by our clergy team. Go to www.SSJE.org/growrule and sign up for the daily email and to view daily videos that share brief reflections and offer encouragement in developing a rule of life.
This comes with my prayers for a Lenten season that will bring new life, depth and support to our life with God and each other.