Have you heard about the Kon Mari decluttering method? It’s a simple approach to organizing developed by Marie Kondo, a professional organizer. It starts with a question: does a particular item bring you joy? If the item in question brings you joy, keep it. If the item in question doesn’t bring you joy, either donate it or dispose of it. I decided to try this approach in our bedroom closet one evening. The process was harder than I imagined. Did the boxes filled with my children’s artwork and essays and other school take homes bring me joy? Yes. Did I need all of it? And in my bedroom closet? Probably not. Some items were easier to get rid of than others (like a colorful sequined top I’d been keeping “just in case”.) Other items were a little harder: old shoes that were too worn out to wear but held special memories.
The season of Lent is a little like spiritual decluttering. It’s not about giving things up for the sake of deprivation or worse yet, shame, but rather, letting go of those things which get in the way of Christian joy: being in a relationship with our God. Lent is a time to renew our commitment to Christ. This will happen in a number of ways at St. Thomas.
Sunday mornings at St. Thomas will take on a different quality for the season of Lent. Flowers on the altar will be replaced with simple greens. We kneel during the prayers of the people and during the Eucharistic Prayers. We will chant the Eucharistic Prayer, with a simple congregational response. We will sing the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God. These small changes will signal the change of the season and encourage contemplative worship. Our children will be invited to participate with us during the entirety of worship, signaling the importance of worshipping together as a community. Church School will be offered at 11:15 a.m. while adults gather for coffee hour.
Our adult Lenten program, “Convicted”, will transform Founders Hall into a courtroom. We will gather each Wednesday during Lent for dinner at 6 p.m. followed by an interactive program that puts different people from the Bible on trial. This interactive series will prepare participants for the trial of Christ on Palm Sunday. Children and teens are most welcome to attend and participate.
And finally, it’s not too late to sign up for The Bible Challenge. Almost sixty St. Thomas parishioners have already signed up. The Bible Challenge is an easy way to read through the entire Bible in a year. Participants read three chapters of the Old Testament, one psalm, and a chapter of the New Testament each day. On Sundays, there are no assigned lessons, as it is hoped that those who participate will hear the scriptures read aloud in church. Smaller challenges within The Bible Challenge allow participants to read the entire New Testament, Proverbs, and Psalms in a year or to read one of the Gospels over a fifty-day period. All of the readings can be read along with meditations, questions, and prayers written by leaders from throughout the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church. The Bible Challenge will begin at St. Thomas on Monday, March 11th.
As you prepare for the season of Lent, I encourage you to give up those things which get in the way of Christian joy and to take on new habits that bring you closer to the love of our God.