Every year on Ash Wednesday, it is the custom of Lent Madness to take a brief hiatus from our yearlong sojourn of silliness. We like to take this occasion to remind ourselves, and you, dear reader, of what we think this is all about.
The title of this blog post is taken from the opening line of George Herbert's exquisite poem, "Lent." In the poem, Herbert writes movingly about the invitation of Lent to embark on a holy journey to grow closer to God.
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.
This season of Lent is about the journey. We won't get it all right, but in trying, we will gain something for ourselves. Lent Madness is surely not the best Lenten discipline for everyone. As Tim reminds us regularly, Lent Madness is optional. Some will find here their very first encounter with the practice of a Lenten disciple, while others will discover that levity and saints do not sit well with their idea of Lent.
Above all, we must remember that this season is about recommitting to following Jesus, to follow him with lives of worship, prayer, study, and service to others. Lent invites us to set aside unimportant things and to focus on what matters most. We think that the ridiculous veneer of Lent Madness covers something much deeper and holier. Scott often reminds us that the Book of Common Prayer describes Lent as a season to "prepare with joy for the Paschal feast." And that's what we're doing. We are preparing with joy for the Easter feast, and for our eternal feast with all the saints.
So, dear friends, we invite you to the observance of a holy Lent. Partake in Lent Madness. Try some other disciplines. Spend this season in the company of fellow pilgrims as we grow ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And know that you will be in our prayers on this day and throughout these next forty days and forty nights.
The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness
Note: George Herbert was the first-ever Golden Halo winner (see this post from Tim's blog). Over on Scott's blog, named for another Herbert poem, he's got George Herbert's "Lent" with original spelling (read it here).