Getting to the Heart of Lent

kid with ashesDear friends in Christ,

It is now customary for us to take a pause from the year-round Madness on this first day of Lent. While we hope everyone has a rich and varied experience of Lent and Lenten disciplines, we encourage everyone to savor the solemnity and, yes, penitence of Ash Wednesday.

George Herbert, English poet and Golden Halo winner in the first Lent Madness, wrote a glorious poem, “Lent.” In that poem, he says this:

It ‘s true, we cannot reach Christ’s fortieth day;
Yet to go part of that religious way,
Is better than to rest:
We cannot reach our Savior’s purity;
Yet are bid, Be holy ev’n as he.
In both let ‘s do our best.

So while we won’t ever reach the full stature of Christ, as our prayer book puts it, we can benefit from whatever effort we manage. That’s what Lent is about. This season certainly isn’t about perfection, much less self-inflicted misery. Lent is about growing to be more Christlike.

Lent Madness, we hope, helps you in the journey, as you see that God has worked in women and men of all kinds, in all places, in all centuries. If God can work in them, God can work in us.

The heart of Lent is recommitting to our Christian journey. We do this not to earn God’s favor, but in thankful response for God’s grace.

For today, we hope you will find your way to a church. Hear the invitation to a holy Lent. Be reminded of your mortality, of the preciousness of life. Feast on Christ’s presence in bread and wine. Savor the Word revealed in scripture.

Soon enough, it will be time for Lent Madness. Today there is the smudge of ash and the reminder of who we are.

Tim+     Scott+

37 Comments to "Getting to the Heart of Lent"

  1. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 1, 2017 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Thank you.

  2. Aleathia Dolores Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia Dolores Nicholson
    March 1, 2017 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Thanks for reminding us WHO we are and WHOSE we are.

  3. Deacon Nancy Oliver's Gravatar Deacon Nancy Oliver
    March 1, 2017 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    Amen to your wise words!

  4. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    March 1, 2017 - 9:49 am | Permalink

    Very well written and exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  5. Ruby Faille's Gravatar Ruby Faille
    March 1, 2017 - 9:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the reminder to grow Christlike not perfect.

  6. Charlotte Jordan's Gravatar Charlotte Jordan
    March 1, 2017 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    The smudge of ash today will remind me that God can work in me, and I can become more Christlike. Thank you!

  7. Donna's Gravatar Donna
    March 1, 2017 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    perfect reminder

  8. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    March 1, 2017 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    Just what I needed today

  9. Phil's Gravatar Phil
    March 1, 2017 - 10:43 am | Permalink


  10. Beverly A Duncan's Gravatar Beverly A Duncan
    March 1, 2017 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you for your beautiful and simply reminder of what Lent is all about.

  11. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 1, 2017 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you and Amen!

  12. Wendy Webster Coakley's Gravatar Wendy Webster Coakley
    March 1, 2017 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    George Herbert’s Golden Halo is shining brightly today!

  13. Mary E. Winston's Gravatar Mary E. Winston
    March 1, 2017 - 11:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks guys! Your reflection got me right in the heart.

  14. Karolen's Gravatar Karolen
    March 1, 2017 - 11:51 am | Permalink

    And so it begins–thank you for quote from George Herbert!

  15. Marge Cull's Gravatar Marge Cull
    March 1, 2017 - 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your wise words. They give me a lot to think about on this holy day.

  16. Richard Gatjens's Gravatar Richard Gatjens
    March 1, 2017 - 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Very nice. I’m heading to church at 7 pm tonight, and you have added to my experience. I’ll keep your thoughts in mind.

  17. March 1, 2017 - 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Love George Herbert’s poem.

  18. Nancy Larkin's Gravatar Nancy Larkin
    March 1, 2017 - 2:11 pm | Permalink

    “…Savor the solemnity…” — what a lovely expression, and so fitting today! Thank you!

  19. Joan Crittenden's Gravatar Joan Crittenden
    March 1, 2017 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Amen. Tim, have I missed,the Lent Madness link?

  20. Bea Fosmire's Gravatar Bea Fosmire
    March 1, 2017 - 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Inspired by Lent Madness, our church is playing “Lent Methodist Madness”. Using 16 brackets,we have selected those men and women who have contributed to the Methodist movement. The final selection will “Wear the Methodist Mantle. Thanks for reminding us “if God can work in them, God can work in us”

  21. Ann's Gravatar Ann
    March 1, 2017 - 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I thought Mary Magdalene won the Golden Halo in 2012. Was there Lent Madness before 2012? As a new fan of LM, I’ve been exploring the web site, and eagerly awaiting tomorrow!

    • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
      March 2, 2017 - 12:05 am | Permalink

      There was, I believe, one year of Lent Madness, including the Madness of Father Tim doing all the work himself, as I recall hearing.

  22. Katie Thomson's Gravatar Katie Thomson
    March 1, 2017 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Very wise words, indeed.
    Many thanks!

  23. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    March 1, 2017 - 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful! Thank you

  24. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    March 1, 2017 - 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Thank you and Amen. I liked the poem and I was touched by your reflection. “We can benefit from whatever effort we manage. That’s what Lent is about… Lent is about growing to be more Christlike.” A wonderful start to this journey!

  25. Brad's Gravatar Brad
    March 1, 2017 - 5:55 pm | Permalink


  26. Kathi Ferris's Gravatar Kathi Ferris
    March 1, 2017 - 7:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s good to be back with Lent Madness. Last year I was dealing with the recent death of my husband of almost 46 years and just didn’t have the heart for anything. I was moving, acting, living by rote. This year it is like a rebirth–I am interested inbeing alive. And supremely grateful to be alive. I anticipate this Lent to be the holiest I have experienced in many years, as I approach it with a thankful heart–for 46 mainly wonderful years, good friends who have ridden the roller coaster that this past two years has been and an ever strengthening faith that, in God’s loving hands, all will be well. Thank you.

    • March 2, 2017 - 6:05 am | Permalink

      Blessings, Kathi, and we’re glad you’re back with us. Thank you for sharing your story of deep faith amid the grief. Peace to you this Lent

  27. March 1, 2017 - 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for these wise words, Tim and Scott. This year I am unable to leave my house on Ash Wednesday, but I have managed to read the daily office and even (tho’ I’ll be hearing it live on Sunday) the Great Litany, so the day has been a moving start to my Lenten journey. The verse of Scripture that has long meant the most to me: “For I am a stranger before thee and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” Lent keeps us on the straight path!

  28. Jan and Sue's Gravatar Jan and Sue
    March 1, 2017 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

    We are joining you again this for the Lentmadness trek. My Aunt in California and I in Tennessee lookforward to learning with you about these wonderful saints and discussing our choice for our one vote. Neither one of us are picture phone people, so we do it the old fashioned way with our land lines. Thank your for the wonderful starting message. Jan and Sue

  29. Theresa in Spokane's Gravatar Theresa in Spokane
    March 1, 2017 - 10:10 pm | Permalink

    How beautiful. Thank you.

  30. Deacon Naomi Cressman's Gravatar Deacon Naomi Cressman
    March 2, 2017 - 7:19 am | Permalink


  31. Ann Willis Scott's Gravatar Ann Willis Scott
    March 2, 2017 - 10:43 am | Permalink

    You have a way with words that I needed to read yesterday. I missed getting my earthly reminder at church because I managed to fall on my head instead. My homemade “smudge” came with a lump and is off-center, but it reminds me of my mortality, anyway. Thanks.

  32. Cecile Torbergsen's Gravatar Cecile Torbergsen
    March 2, 2017 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Yes indeed, thank you all!

  33. Yvonne Poppen's Gravatar Yvonne Poppen
    March 2, 2017 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this!

  34. Willo Fuhr's Gravatar Willo Fuhr
    March 2, 2017 - 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for providing a wonderful practice for Lent. I am especially excited to learn about each Saint you have chosen and to be reminded of the sacrifices they because of their love of Christ.

  35. March 3, 2017 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Our parish priest used to describe Lent in this way and encourage all of us to view Lent as a journey. We were encouraged to give up something that is not good for us and take on something that is good for us and to maintain this practoce for 40 days. If at the end of Lent this order of things seemed beneficial it was continued. If not, it was abandoned but the experience was still a valuable learning experience, a valuable journey.

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