Ash Wednesday: The Gift of Embracing Lent
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
— The Book of Common Prayer, p. 402
I struggle during Lent. I tried giving up being snarky one year – that lasted about three hours. I’ve given up coffee, tried to eat vegan, etc., and I generally end up lamenting my inability to retain any sort of Lenten discipline. In recent years, I realized that I had been going about it all wrong.
I came to The Episcopal Church to sing in the choir and stayed because I fell in love with the liturgy, the theology and the priests who challenged me to see the sacred in new ways. As someone new to church, I learned the rhythms of what was happening during mass through the movements of sung masses – that’s the Kyrie! That’s the Agnus Dei! I realize now that I also experience the rhythms of the liturgical year through music.
Our choir sings Schubert’s Sanctus (S130 in The Hymnal 1982) for the duration of Lent. We sing it slowly, a capella, with the first line in unison, then moving into four-part harmony. I am often moved to tears by our beautiful and loving profession of faith. And that has become my Lenten discipline and gift each year. I have finally learned to get out of my own way enough to embrace this time. If you struggle with Lent, go back to what brings you to church and love that in a new way. It’s an incredible gift.
Heidi J. Kim, Missioner for Racial Reconciliation for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
Image: A group of women dancing and singing – Kenya – Mike Smith.