Ministerial Musings: A Lenten Devotion

This is it: Lent is about to begin. February 22 is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. Many people will gather in sanctuaries and cathedrals across the world to share the bread and cup of Holy Communion and to receive ashes on their foreheads to mark the start of our contemplative journey.

I recall that my Catholic childhood friends had to give something up for Lent, be it chocolate, or television, or drinking soda.  The idea was to identify with the sufferings of Christ. “How does denying ourselves a Hershey bar and a can of Coca Cola help us identify with the crucifixion?” I remember asking myself. Although I better understand how denying one’s self a routine pleasure is a spiritual practice, it made little sense to me as a child.

As I got older, I heard about people adopting spiritual practices for this season. In other words, they decided to do something they normally wouldn’t do to make it part of their six-and-a-half week Lenten sojourn.

Some people choose to read through the Gospels during these forty-plus days. Others decide to pray more diligently following a specific prayer-pattern. Others plunge into the work of a Christian devotionalist such as Henri Nouwen, Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott, or, for the more traditional, someone like N.T. Wright or Max Lucado.

The point is to enrich and foster one’s own spiritual growth, as opposed to giving up coffee or watching CSI Miami.

What will you do? How will you nurture your soul and use this time to deepen your relationship with the Living Christ? I encourage you to do so, and to do so in a constructive manner. Pray. Read. Serve. Use this time to find the true Jesus — and to find yourself.


Holy God, be with us as we begin this Lenten sojourn. Accompany us down the stony road and into the vast wilderness. Remind us that the way through such a time of spiritual deliberation is by immersing ourselves in your Word and following your way. Bless us, we pray, as we do in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Rev. Dr. John Tamilio III, Ph.D.

John Tamilio III is the religion columnist for The Lakewood Observer and the Sernior Pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in the Tremont Neighborhood of Cleveland.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 PM, 02.21.2012