Feb 15 2008

Practicing Lent

It has been over a week since Lent began Wednesday, February 6, and I am sure you are wondering how much intentional time have I spent in quiet contemplation, journaling, or listening for God? After counting up my daily totals, I believe I have spent about 28.3 minutes engaging in my new Lenten practice. In search of support and guidance in living out my Lenten commitment to prayer, stillness, and listening (for God), I asked around the Candler School of Theology community for some tips and am eager to hear what other faithful believers are urging themselves to do or not do during Lent.

Within the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid staff we have both people who are giving up things, such as sweets and TV, as well as those who are committing to adding practices to their live. For example, one of my colleagues is committing to intentional time in the morning for quiet devotion, critical reading, journaling, and, as she describes it, “Sanity time.” If only I were a morning person and could have my quiet “God time,” before beginning my day. Jena Black, one of our Admissions Advisors, is giving up politics for Lent, which must be a challenge during this election year.

Anjie Peek Woodworth, an MDiv senior, is doing something creative or physical every day. Anjie shared with me that she feels more grounded and rooted and able to listen to God in her life when she’s being creative and active. The greater Candler community is also encouraging Lenten practices by starting a book group for those interested in reading and dialoguing about Tokens of Trust, by the Right Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. In addition, interested students, faculty, and staff are gathering on Tuesdays, in the early evening, for an hour of intercessory prayer. The group is building a list of prayers for individuals, the community, and the world. They open with scripture and then pray for each person or group on our prayer list individually, ending with a short thanksgiving for answered prayers. This sounds like a great way for us, as a seminary community, to spend intentional time in prayer and reflection weekly.

Candler’s chapter of the Order of St. Luke, which is an ecumenical religious order in The United Methodist Church whose members vow to live the sacramental life and to carry out liturgical scholarship, education, and practice, in addition to the Morning Prayer services they help organize and lead daily here at Candler, published a daily lectionary, reflections, and prayer guide for the Lenten season. The booklet includes daily reading written by current Candler students, faculty, staff, as well as alumni. And to make prayer, reflection, and discernment time even easier, the Office of Student Programming also emails the Candler community one prayer a week written by various members of our community.

I hope you will join our communal prayers as you read and pray these beautiful words written by Rev. Dr. Renee K. Harrison, Interim Director, Program of Black Church Studies & Visiting Asst Prof of African American Religious Practices and Culture.

The Healing Spirit, Loving God,
We awake giving thanks
for breath,
for life,
for new possibilities of loving and healing
ourselves,
our nation,
and our world.

We awake giving thanks
for new possibilities of loving and healing
our earth,
our loved ones,
and our enemies.

Bless us this day as we to send forth
good vibrations of kindness through
our words,
thoughts,
and actions.

We give thanks for this Lent season
and for your grace divine.

Empowered we stand,
In love we speak,
In spirit we heal

May your will be done.

Amen, Ashe, and Shalom

What are your giving up or adding to your life during Lent this year? What practices have you tried in previous years? What tips can you offer to others, like myself, who struggle to maintain Lenten and spiritual practices?

I hope you are surrounded by a rich community of Lenten pilgrims like the one we share here at Candler. Blessings for the journey ahead.

For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at www.candler.emory.edu, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at candleradmissions@emory.edu. In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about the admissions process at Candler by clicking here. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.