Blessings to you all on this Ash Wednesday. While we like to have a lot of fun here at Lent Madness and occasionally engage in a bit of holy hyperbole, we're always mindful of why we host Lent Madness. Learning about and being inspired by saintly lives is food for our respective journeys of life and faith. The season of Lent has a wonderful way of stripping everything down to its essentials and bringing us back to the basics of our faith.
We can learn much from those who have come before us as faithful witnesses to the Gospel. And they always seem to come back to this: "Love God, love neighbor." Each one of these holy men and women did just that in their own time and in their own circumstances and they can inspire us to do the same in our own day. Like us, the saints weren't perfect -- but it's freeing to remember that perfection isn't the goal but faithfulness. Lent Madness helps make real these heroes of the faith by reminding us that they were living, breathing human beings not lifeless statues or distant figures immortalized yet immobilized in stained glass.
So as we stand at the cusp of another season of "madness" (it all begins tomorrow at 8:00 am EST), it's important to take a step back to remember why we engage in this unique online devotion. Yes, Lent is a time for self-examination and repentance but the essence of Lent Madness is to remind us that Lent is also a time of joy. After all, what could be more joyful than a time specifically set aside to grow our individual and collective relationships with Jesus Christ?
Know that you are all in our prayers on this Ash Wednesday and we encourage you to attend today's liturgy as an entrance into the season. Fortunately, the church has many "branch locations" spread throughout the world -- check your local listings. Then reflect on these words from the Book of Common Prayer:
Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. 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. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
Tim and Scott
(AKA the Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness)