Now is the Time: An Invitation to a Holy Lent

Dear friends in Christ,

Every year, even Lent Madness pauses on this one day. On Ash Wednesday, we set aside our silliness as we are reminded of our mortality and our need of salvation. This year, more than ever, our world needs Lent and its invitation to return to Jesus Christ.

kid with ashesWe live in a world that is gripped by fear and hatred. Too many of our national leaders seem intent on steering to the low road. Time seems to be in short supply as jobs, families, and various electronic gizmos compete for our attention. Now more than ever, we need Lent.

Lent is, above all else, an invitation to turn away from those things which keep us from following Jesus -- and to turn toward those things which draw us closer to our Lord and savior. As St. Paul says, "Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!"

Now is the time for us to renounce fear, to reject hatred, and to take the more difficult high road. Now is the time to make space in our lives for prayer, study, and worship. Now is the time to look carefully at our lives and to open up our hearts to change. Thanks be to God, the church has given us an entire season to do just these things.

On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of our mortality. It might seem gloomy, but in fact it is an invitation to savor this earthly life as a precious gift and to live it well. Jesus Christ wants us to have life and have it abundantly, and Ash Wednesday reminds us that we don't really have that long to get to it. So let's do that, shall we?

We hope Lent Madness will be helpful on your journey. Behind all the competition and humor, we see in the saints a group of women and men through whom Christ's light burned brightly. They weren't perfect, but they managed to open their hearts to change, to let God in. As you move through this year's Saintly Smackdown, enjoy the community of fellow travelers who root for their saints as you root for yours. Learn what you can. Perhaps your prayer life will be enriched as you invite the saints in glory to pray with you.

Tomorrow, let the Madness begin. Today, get to church if you can. Hear the Gospel. Pray for God's forgiveness. Receive the ashen cross on your forehead. And begin this season of repentance with an open heart.

We wish you every blessing of God's gracious love this Lenten season.

Tim+      Scott+
The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness


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60 comments on “Now is the Time: An Invitation to a Holy Lent”

  1. I love all of what you said and I love Lent. I'm not sure why we feel a need to apologize for gloomy on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps it's a by-product of our culture that needs to be upbeat and positive in order to attract membership, clients, customers, friends, you name it. The reality is that living in this, pulling aside the veil just a touch, helps us face the truth of the world we live in, which is horrible and wonderful, knowing that we are not alone.

  2. Thank you both. This was a beautiful reminder. There is so much promised in the return to dust so that when my time comes I can go down to my grave saying, "Alleluia! Alleluia!"

  3. Repent, take the high road, . . . and vote. Satan may be in office, but we can resist. Blessings to all this Lent. Tomorrow we leave the gates of the great city for Canterbury. Bring sugar cubes for your steed. Can't wait to be with you all.

      1. Thank you, Barbara, for your reply. I second it. I, too, think we should leave politics out of Lent Madness.

    1. If your intent is to drive me away you almost succeeded. I will continue to read of the saints but will skip the comments this year.

  4. Thank you for this. It is a perfect breakdown of Lent for those who don’t get it. I’ve enjoyed Lent Madness since its second year and it enhances the season for me. I think I’ll add receiving ashes from one of you to my bucket list.

  5. Although I cannot receive ashes today I will not eat meat. I decided that going to the local community church that is Presbyterian is working out. It is very evangelistic and the reverend is a woman. I can count on the reverend to go by lent and live out the life of Jesus in all of us in the congregation. My own mortality is still something I have recognized in the past and still do, but today I am happy because Jesus will be raised from the dead on Easter.

    1. The Calvinist tradition has its virtues; I appreciate the wonderful, sober, long sermons on textual exegesis. That tempered with feminine evangelism should be quite the spiritual banquet.

  6. Amen, this is a time to reflect and find a way to get myself right with God and my fellow travelers. I love this post as reminder to what Lent is really about.

  7. Thank you for thisl start to the day. I will often put aside the Lent Madness emails to "read later" but I opened it this morning. I am the principal of a Catholic Elementary School. I can hear
    our 8th Graders helping to prepare for our our Ash Wednesday Liturgy - we will be marked with the sign of the Cross - a visible symbol of our faith, hope and mortality. My day is so busy it is easy to forgot the most important things - I can forget to put myself in the holy presence of God. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  8. Thank you for this Lenten message. I am — among other things — a professor in a graduate international relations program. Your message reminds us that we must have hope even in the midst of high-volume driving for the lowest common denominator, hope for the future.

  9. Amen. This morning I enjoyed my own homemade peach lavender jam on toast with a cup of good coffee, and the simple quiet of morning and beginning the day. More and more, I see how I need time of simple quiet, time of prayer, contemplation, and awe. Amen.

    1. Oh, Claudia, your post made me think of my late Mom who would make peach jam just for me. You didn't know but thank you!


    2. In response to Claudia's mention of her homemade peach lavender jam, do you share your recipes? It sounds divine and sharing food amongst friends is always sacred time.

  10. This is beautiful. Thank you for leading us into Ash Wednesday and Lent so wisely. I am keeping some of your words as a daily prayer during this season.

  11. Amen. An appropriate note of gravity on this solemn day before we engage with the serious-minded levity of Lent Madness. Many thanks to Tim and Scott.

  12. Thank you so much. I can't get to church today but reading your message made me feel I've been there.
    You two are a joy, a silly pleasure at times, and blessed counselors at others.

  13. Blessings to you both and alk your staff at Forward Movement. Thank you for bringing us the fun and lessons of faith in Lent Madness.

  14. Thank you. Wonderful message. Had our Diocesan Council this past weekend, that and your Lenten Message has left me feeling spiritually uplifted!

  15. Thank you for this reminder of the solemnity of Ash Wednesday and the invitation to use Lent as a time for prayer, study and worship. May God bless everyone as they enter into this time of contemplation and reflection.

  16. During Lent, I look forward to learning about the Saints and reflecting on their lives and faith. What may seem like a tongue in cheek play on NCAA basketball madness (I live in Kentucky-it's a big thing in my neck of the woods) has become for me a very sobering and meaningful email I look forward to all through Lent. Without Lent Madness, I would just be trying and failing occasionally to give up chocolate for 40 days. Thank you for this gift.