The word “Lent” means “lengthen” and it’s about the days getting longer. The early Church began to practice a season of preparation for those who would be baptized at Easter, and before too long other members of the Christian community joined those candidates for baptism as an act of solidarity.
It was a season during which Christians and future Christians learned about the disciplines of the faith – prayer and study and fasting and giving alms, sharing what they have.
But the reality is that, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, the lengthening days were often times of famine and hunger, when people had used up their winter food stores and the spring had not yet produced more food to feed people. Acting in solidarity with those who go hungry is a piece of what it means to be a Christian. To be a follower of Jesus is to seek the healing of the whole world.
And Lent is a time when we practice those disciplines as acts of solidarity with the broken and hungry and ill and despised parts of the world.
I would invite you this Lent to think about your Lenten practice as an exercise in solidarity with all that is – with other human beings and with all of creation. That is most fundamentally what Jesus is about. He is about healing and restoring that broken world.
So as you enter Lent, consider how you will live in solidarity with those who are hungry, or broken, or ill in one way or another.
May you have a blessed Lent this year, and may it yield greater light in the world.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop and Primate The Episcopal Church