Mar 01, 2019Lent and The Way of Love

Lent and The Way of Love

A reflection on Lent and the journey that is ‘The Way of Love’.

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field Five-minute read.   Resources
Lenten Altar at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral Image credit: Gary Allman

The season of Lent is upon us and I’ve been told that – this year – the 40 Days of Lent will culminate in the observance of Holy Week, during which we will re-live Jesus’ final, earthbound days. I’ve also heard that – this year – Easter will follow Holy Week and will be observed for 50 days culminating with the remembrance of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to the Church.

Yeah. Okay. I know it happens that way every year. Nevertheless, I hope the sameness of this year’s journey through Lent, Holy Week, and Easter will not deter us from observing this most critical, central, significant time in truly new, powerful, and transformative ways. After all, there is nothing as important as Easter; nothing is more important than the remembrance of Christ’s Resurrection, because only Jesus’ victory over death resounds beyond the bounds of our earthly lives.

How important is Easter? Just check the calendar. The very numbering of our years divides at, and because of, the decisive moment when death was defeated. All our human history is numbered backward or forward from that day!

So. How will you mark Lent? How will you celebrate the triumph of Easter?

May I suggest to individuals, small groups, and parishes, that you focus on “The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life”? And it’s not only me inviting you; our Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael Curry, has issued this invitation to join him on this journey. Want to know more? Read on!

First, the Way of Love is evangelism. Evangelism, simply put, is hearing, absorbing, and becoming immersed in and transformed by the love of God in Christ Jesus. The Way of Love is designed to help us reach out to those who do not know or follow Jesus and to give us practical steps to help others learn to engage Jesus. Moreover, the Way of Love provides us methods (a rule for life and practices of faith) to be evangelized ourselves, for even we who have been committed to Jesus for many years need always to be evangelized anew and immersed more deeply in the love of God.

Second, the Way of Love is exactly what is says. It’s about practices that are individual and communal, daily and periodic; it’s about habits that bring Jesus to the core of personal and community life. These practices are intended for individuals but can be taught and supported in many settings such as small group and parish activities. If you seek love, freedom, or abundant life, then you seek what Jesus wants to give. He gives these things when we seek him. The Way of Love is a seekers’ path.

Third, The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life is part of our Presiding Bishop’s call to be the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. To be Jesus’ movement, we love like Jesus loved, and that love has the power to amend lives, transform communities, and change the world. Certainly, that is the core of Jesus’ message.

The Way of Love uses seven principles or practices to turn lives toward Jesus. These practices constitute a rule of life that also reminds us moment-by-moment to live as representatives of Jesus’ loving, liberating, and life-giving way. The seven practices are:

  • Turn – Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus
  • Learn – Reflect on scripture each day, especially Jesus’ life and teachings.
  • Pray – Dwell intentionally with God each day.
  • Worship – Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and draw near to God.
  • Bless – Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
  • Go – Cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus.
  • Rest – Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration.

Keeping these practices before us daily, even hourly, helps us build the habit of letting Jesus into the center of our lives, our relationships, and our activities.

Many of you have heard me speak (or read what I’ve written) about my core belief about the dual but related purposes for which the Church exists —

  1. to help lives be formed or transformed into the moral likeness of Christ and
  2. to help communities of all kinds become the Beloved Community.

Lent and Easter seem to me to be the perfect times to begin employing the practices of the Way of Love and to begin building the habits that will help us become a reflection of Christ’s life and our faith communities to become the Beloved Community Christ Jesus wants the whole world to be.

In matters not when you start. Lent? Easter? Another time? Any time is the right time. How about now?

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field (Bishop Marty) is the eighth bishop of The Diocese of West Missouri.

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