“Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me,
Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”
St. Patrick’s Breastplate – Hymn 370 v.6
All of our Lenten celebration is preparation to meet and greet the Risen Christ at Easter! Lent ought to be a celebration of our endeavor to draw close to Jesus, whether through acts of discipline, prayer, study of
scripture, fasting or responding to the needs of the marginalized and oppressed.
In his delightful book, “Letters to Marc, about Jesus,” Henri Nouwen, entitles his last letter to his nephew,‘Listening to Jesus.’ Nouwen exhorts his nephew Marc to keep listening to the voice of the Holy One, despite the distractions of the world trying to get our attention for seemingly more urgent matters.
He suggests listening to the church. Immersing oneself so deeply in the liturgical life of the church
thereby listening to the Lord of the church. Secondly, he says that we should listen to the book. Read the
bible! Carefully listening to the word of God will inform our hearts, minds and spirits for ministry in the
church and the world. Thirdly, Nouwen coaxes us to listen to our hearts, for it is there that Jesus speaks
most intimately to us through the power of prayer. Listen to that unassuming voice, very nearly a whisper the voice of gentle love, and the voice of Jesus in your heart.
There are many other noisy, voices that may distract us this lent, demanding our attention. However, as
we take time to listen to the voice of Jesus, in worship, word and prayer, we will learn that journeying
with Jesus is an adventure not to be missed. As we admit the Christ to our hearts, nothing is predictable,
yet everything becomes filled with light, opportunity and possibility.
As we prepare for Lent, as the marked and sealed of God, we are challenged to remember – remember
that through our mortality we long to draw close to our Holy God and each other. Take time to listen and remember; remember when, remember who, remember how.
While the symbol of Ashes on Ash Wednesday remind us of our mortality, it is however a visible sign of
our call to celebrate the good news as a visible witness. Take time to pray, study the scriptures, worship
and journal this lent. Take time to remember. Take time to turn to God. Take time to share the Good
News. Take time to seek the positive in this life. Take time to alleviate poverty. Take time to give of your
resources and gifts to bring joy and hope to others. Take time to be occupied with and willing to be an
agent of transformation and reconciliation in our day. Pray that this Holy season of lent will enrich your
Lenten Blessings of Peace!
The Reverend Canon Alan G. Dennis