This year, it feels to me like no accident that Lent begins during the last week of Black History Month. It seems appropriate that our Christian season of reflection and repentance coincides with a month in which we can’t escape reckoning with the legacy of the sin of slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration.
Last weekend, I preached at the Black History Month Celebration of the Diocese of Montreal and had a chance to reflect once again on our church’s complicated past in matters of race. As I said in my sermon, our history is filled both with people who stole land and perpetrated colonialism and racism, and with people who aided escaping slaves, sought repentance for the church’s sins, and worked to include and celebrate the presence and contributions of the diversity of people who make up our church.
The legacy of this unresolved history belongs not only to our church, but to our entire nation. That is why I am joining Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in calling for a Lenten season of prayer, fasting and repentance on behalf of our nation. I hope that you will consider joining us and Episcopalians across the church as we renew our commitment to these ancient spiritual practices that can lead us to action that will repair the breach in our communities and in our nation.
I am pledging to fast on Ash Wednesday and on each Wednesday of Lent, and if your health and situation allow you to join me, I invite you to do so. As the Presiding Bishop and his partners in the Reclaiming Jesus movement write, “Fasting weekly can help us to stop, pay attention, wake up, interrupt our schedules, go deeper, and listen for God and the Holy Spirit in ways that might lead us to new places in our hearts and minds.”
I would also like to invite you to join me in reading The Restoration Project: A Benedictine Path to Wisdom, Strength, and Love, by Christopher H. Martin. Each of the six weeks of Lent, we will read a chapter of the book and gather on Zoom and Facebook to reflect on the ways that we might embrace the practices of Benedictine spirituality to keep God at the center of our lives in this difficult and divisive time for our nation and our world. Look for more information about how to join the conversation beginning the week of March 2, and order the book online.
I look forward to our Lenten journey together and, at its conclusion, to rejoicing with you in the season of Easter.
Peace and blessings,