In the middle of Lent 2020, there was a meme that was popular in social media which read, “This is the Lentiest Lent I ever Lented!”
In some ways, the past two years have felt like a two-year long Lent. Traditionally, Lent is a time when we slow down. Check. A time when we recognize our limitations. Check. Our brokenness. Check. Our mortality. Check.
Just as we have been emerging from the grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are aware of the war and devastation in the Ukraine, renewing that Lenten feeling. Lord, in your mercy.
Amidst the feelings of despair with the current state of the world, I was touched by a hymn our Friday Prayer Group read last week, “O God of Every Nation,” by William Watkins Reid, Jr. The words are so relevant to our world today.
“O God of every nation,
Of every race and land,
Redeem your whole creation
With your almighty hand;
Where hate and fear divide us,
And bitter threats are hurled,
In love and mercy guide us,
And heal our strife-torn world.
Lord, strengthen all who labor
That all may find release
From fear of rattling saber,
From dread of war’s increase;
When hope and courage falter,
Lord, let your voice be heard;
With faith that none can alter,
Your servants undergird.
Keep bright in us the vision
Of days when war shall cease,
When hatred and division
Give way to love and peace…”
In this “Lentiest of Lents,” we are called to do as Jesus did and take a new direction. We can renew our lives of prayer, by trying something brave and new, pray more often, navigate our relationships with faithful care, repent when what we do, or say does not enable God’s love to shine through us.
We can consider our choices, our consumption, our patronage to see God’s justice and gentleness brought to bear across the whole world.
Use this Lenten time to draw closer to God by means of spiritual disciplines, bearing witness by sharing experiences with others through empathy and support. Lighten our emotional load through reading scripture, praying, and maintaining commitments and service to others.
The Rev. Dr. Tamara Francis Wilden is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church serving as a staff chaplain at OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital.