I wish you a blessed Lent.
Lent is the ancient season of preparation. Preparation for Baptism at the Easter Vigil and it's a season of solidarity with those who are being formed to be disciples of Jesus and missionaries in God's mission.
We form people in a sense that God dreams of a healed world, a world restored to peace with justice, and some of the ancient images of that healed world are those of the prophets. One of the famous ones from Isaiah is an image of people having a picnic on a mountainside, enjoying rich food and well-aged wine. That image of being well-fed is particularly poignant in a world like ours where so many go hungry.
Lent is a time when we pray, when we fast, when we study, when we give alms. It's a time of solidarity and it is particularly a time to be in solidarity with the least of these.
As you prepare for your Lenten season and your Lenten discipline, I'd encourage you to think about consciousness in eating. That's really more what fasting is about than giving up chocolate. Being conscious of what you eat, standing in solidarity with those who are hungry, whether it is for food, or shelter, or peace, or dignity, or recognition, or for love.
When we stand in solidarity in terms of eating, we might consider what we are eating and how we are eating it and with whom we are eating, and I'd invite you to consider some of the challenges that are around us. Many leaders in this United States part of the church have engaged in an act of solidarity with the poor by trying to live on a food stamp budget for a week. That's about $4 a person per day. And it's very, very difficult to find adequate calories and reasonably nutritious food for that kind of a budget. But it would be an act of solidarity with those who do go without every day and every week. An act of solidarity like that might increase your consciousness about those who go hungry, it might increase your own consciousness about what you eat, and it might provide an opportunity to share some of your largesse, some of what you save from that kind of eating with those who go without.
The violence in our country, the violence around the world is most often an act in response to those who don't have enough. Those who are hungry, those who ache for recognition and dignity, those who struggle for peace.
Your and my preparation for the great Easter festival can be an act of solidarity with the least of these. As you engage this Lent, I would encourage you to pray, to fast, to act in solidarity with those who go without. Learn more, give alms, share what you have. Be conscious about what you eat.
A blessed, blessed Lent this year.