Many feasts, fasts and celebrations in the Christian calendar are linked to particular dates – like All Saints always being on November 1st or Christmas always being on December 25th.

Easter, on the other hand, is the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This means that the date for Easter can change dramatically, all the way from March 22nd to April 25th. As a result, a whole host of other seasons, feasts and festivals can really vary year to year, because they are calculated relative to Easter – like Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday.

All to say, as Easter is very early this year, so too are Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday (exactly 47 and 46 days beforehand), kicking off the season of Lent in mid-February.

So, this is your warning not to be caught flat-footed, an invitation to prepare for this Lenten season.

I find Lent to be an absolutely beautiful, rich time, when, in the words of the Ash Wednesday liturgy, we are invited “to observe a Holy Lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.”

What Lent is not is a quick self-help/self-improvement scheme or a diet culture fad, but rather a season of spiritual realigning, a reorientation of ourselves towards God, towards health and justice in our bodies, our relationships, our lives and our world.

As an example, one year for Lent, I decided to try eating vegetarian (a Lenten practice that ended up sticking), thinking about the impact that my choices had on the environment, another year, in another fast for the earth, I tried to live “zero waste,” and kept every piece of garbage that I made over those seven weeks. In other years, I have signed up to receive a daily meditation by email, read a book, or tried a new prayer practice. For a couple of years, every time I went to the grocery store, I bought a meal for a family and then, at Easter, brought it all to the food bank.

Lenten practices can look like so many different things. What will your practice(s) be this year?

Perhaps you will join our Lenten study, or try on a fast for the earth, or share your resources for justice and mercy in our community and world. Maybe you will try on a new prayer practice or fast from harsh words and thoughts towards yourself and others.

If you would like any guidance, please let me know so that together we can observe a holy Lent and be blessed by the opportunities that this season invites us into.  

Thanks be to God!