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 Joy in Lent             

Why should-or can we-think of Lent and Joy shared together?  

Most of our known history, we have thought of Lent as being a season of suffering: a season of sorrow and lament.

At the same time, joy can be-and often is-experienced in midst of suffering.
Experience often tells us: caring for a loved one through illness is, often seen as ‘joy’ in recognizing the privilege of caring.            

Certainly, in the season of Lent, we would not expect the minister to talk about joy.
Saying this, I am reminded of a dear adherent in one parish.

This parishioner wrote the most heartfelt prayers on a regular basis, well into her senior years.
Her prayers were often a highlight during a BCP Holy Communion service.

She radiated a joy-filled spirit.            

In conversation about omitting The Gloria in worship during Lent, she expressed:
‘as Christians, we should always be giving praise to God!’

Her expression of joy in those introductory words, 'Glory be to God on high, and in earth, peace good will towards men', could fill a sanctuary for more than 200 people.

It was infectious! Even on the most difficult day, she would find space for joy.

She was able to remind us why ‘Friday of Holy Week’ is Good Friday.            

Recently in my reading, I have been reminded that we live in a world of “shoulds,” “oughts”, and “needs.” Constantly, we find ourselves immersed in “need-to’s (I know that is not a word, except for the purpose of this article). 

I should be doing this. I ought to finish that. 

We live in a society of false expectations, only placed upon ourselves. There is an expectation that we need to do ‘more,’ more quickly. Maybe employ a robot while we sleep.            

The question is: how do we incite joy in Lent?

How do we incite joy for the family in palliative?

How do we incite joy for the grieving?

The list is endless. There are so many incidents or experiences in the world where we would not expect to find joy.

Possibly,the most inciteful direction we can find comes from the scriptures.

‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’
Micah 6:8

‘Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,
for by so doing some people have shown hospitality
to angels without knowing it.’
Hebrews 13:2            

Our task: to spend some time in solitude, and examine all those incidents in our lives where we have found joy-those times in our deepest sorrow where we have experienced joy-simply because someone walked with us. Or, the time a person brought coffee to our bedside, or a fast-food treat to our bedside in the hospital.

Joy in Lent.

Blessings of joy in Lent,
Archdeacon Brian+