Resources for Reflection and Growth this Lent
Posted March 1, 2022
The Book of Common Prayer invites us to a Holy Lent on Ash Wednesday:
“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” - BCP 264
As you plan your own practices for Lent, you may find support in some resources in the Book of Common Prayer too. I recommend the Litany of Penitence on page 267. We say the Litany on Ash Wednesday in Worship, and I recommend that you review the Litany once a week as a form of self-examination.
In the prayer we search out our character flaws, for example, “Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves.” These wise confessions help us identify the patterns of sin in our lives so we can repent and turn to healthy spiritual patterns. Noticing my envy, I can confess it and set the intention of replacing it with a generous spirit whenever the envy arises. With God’s help, of course.
I also recommend our Baptismal Covenant on page 304. The first part of the Covenant is the Apostle’s Creed, our most concise summary of who God is. Please don’t skip the Creedal part! It describes the incomparable gift of God’s self-disclosure to us and the bond of unbreakable love God has made with us in Jesus Christ.
The vows which follow are our response to this gift. Because God is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, and because God has defeated sin through the Cross and Resurrection and formed an unbreakable bond with us, we respond with commitments. These commitments are a great tool for daily self-examination. How did I “seek and serve Christ in all persons” today? How did I "share the Good News of God in Christ" today? Self-examination leads to self-awareness, confession and amendment of life with the assistance of God’s grace and love.
The path of self-examination is meant to lead us into spiritual freedom; the capacity to respond to the challenges of life from the resources of Christ. What good news! In life, we so often react from our angers, resentments, hurts, frustrations, fears and anxieties. In Christ, we have a reservoir of new life, abundant life, that sets us free to replace our character flaws with the character of Christ.
One tool I personally use is something called the 8 C’s of Internal Family Systems. Richard Schwartz distills 8 virtues that flow when we are living from our God given soul: calmness, clarity, curiosity, compassion, confidence, courage, creativity, and connectedness. I check in on this list every day and take my spiritual temperature. How was I living from my soul today? How was I avoiding it? How can God’s love restore me to God’s loving intention for me? These are the questions of Lent. Thank you for joining me in the questions.
The Rev. Jarrett Kerbel
Join St. Martin's for Lent, a period of reflection, spiritual growth, and deepened relationship with God.