Jane Shaw reminds us that before they were baptized, the earliest Christians were asked not so much “What do you believe?” as “How has your life been transformed by Christ?” Lent is a time to ask ourselves the same central question — “How has my life been transformed by Christ?”
The classical Lenten practices are all about transformation. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are simple, practical ways to invite transformation for ourselves and our faith community. They’re also worth sharing with others who may have little or no use for religion as a set of theological ideas, but who long for meaning and a new way of living. As writer Eric Weiner reflected last December in the New York Times, there are many, many people out there who may not believe in God but hope to one day. At diocesan convention in November I asked every member of the Diocese to have one meaningful conversation with someone about the faith. Ash Wednesday provides a provocative opportunity to strike up a conversation about Lent and what it means to you.
Do the ashes with which we are marked help to start this conversation or not? What would you say to kick-start that conversation with someone who may be spiritual but religiously indifferent?
–Bishop Jeff Lee