During a recent adult formation meeting, the Reverend Sandy Webb elicited a gasp from attendees when he described a man whose Lenten sacrifice was enough to give you goosebumps.
The man, said Fr. Sandy, gave up heated water for Lent. Warm water in his coffee. Hot water in his shower.
Are you shivering yet?
Indeed, a popular way to observe Lent is to make a small sacrifice in your daily life. Such a sacrifice references the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before starting his earthly ministry.
But Lent doesn’t just have to be about giving up sugar, meat, or the creature comfort of warm water. It can be about taking on a practice: sharing love through knitting, taking a class, or participating in a service project with someone you care about.
This year, Lent will last from Wednesday, February 26 through Thursday, April 9. Learn how two Holy Communion parishioners observe the season in unique ways.
Her Episcopal Life
Meredith Hitchcock is getting ready to go back to class.
A lifelong member of Holy Communion, Meredith has taken Fr. Sandy’s Inquirer’s Class (formerly “My Episcopal Life”) since it was first offered during Lent at Holy Communion in 2014. This year will be no different.
“The class is part of my anticipation of Easter. It’s that block of time that you put aside that’s not your normal prayer time or church time when you can focus on what Lent is all about.”
Presented by the Reverend Sandy Webb, the Inquirer’s Class is a survey-style course made up of five sessions where newcomers and oldcomers alike are guided through scripture, theology, and church history. “I love the part of the class that delves into the history and formation of the Episcopal Church,” Meredith says. She sees how the Episcopal Church’s history and theology are alive at Church of the Holy Communion.
“This church, this community, is a salve that you can rub on the wounds on the rest of your life.”
Even though Meredith has been through the class multiple times, she finds it new and fresh each time she experiences it. “It’s not the same exact every year. It strikes your spirit in a different way each year, just the way you need it to.”
“Especially during Lent, when you’re trying to be more mindful of what the season’s about and the anticipation of Easter, the Inquirer’s Class gets you centered for the upcoming week. It gets you in that frame of mind before you get busy at work or with your family or other things that tend to be a distraction.”
For Meredith, Lent is not sacrifice.
“It’s a nurturing of my spirit. Everyone around me, here [at Holy Communion] is in the same joyful spirit. Lent is an anticipation, because we all know how the story ends.”
The Inquirer’s Class will be offered during the Adult Forum hour during the month of March. No registration is required. Learn more at HolyCommunion.org.
“Knitting, for me, is a gift from the Lord.”
Brooke Caldwell’s hands have been busy for close to fifteen years.
Back then, she was an undergraduate in her early 20’s, and her life was changing at a swift clip. Like many young people, she was anxious about finding a job, paying bills, and her role as the eldest of seven children in her newly-blended family.
“It was then that I started knitting. It was a way for me to find my own identity and be separate from the group.”
She says that she was a “horrible knitter” during those first years (a claim that the Minister of Communication takes with a grain of salt) but that she kept up with it. Her family supported her new hobby, too, when they saw how much peace it brought her.
Brooke came to Holy Communion close to five years ago through the invitation of close connections in the local knitting community, including Linda Christopher and Kristen Powell. These days, she is active in the Knitting Ministry and Lay Pastoral Care team at the parish.
“I had a friend online who told me that God doesn’t want just our money; he wants our time and talents, so for me, knitting is a time tithe. I do prayer squares, prayer shawls, and prayer bears during Lent because I do believe that my knitting is a gift from God.”
At every church service or event she attends, regardless of the church calendar, Brooke knits hats to go to a local nonprofit which will be given to at-risk youth, people with housing insecurity, or others in need. During Lent, she increases her practice.
“A couple years ago, I did prayer shawls. Last year, I did prayer bears.”
Prayer squares are for anyone who is going through a hard time, whether it’s someone who is caring for the person in need or if it’s the person in need.
“You can’t bring a prayer shawl into an MRI machine, but you can bring a square in because it will literally fit into the palm of your hard. The bumps of the stiches are in the shape of a cross, so you can run your finger over them and know that it’s there.”
“For me, Lent is sacrifice,” Meredith explains. “I am sacrificing my time and my talent to God every year, just as Christ spent 40 days preparing for his sacrifice. I can’t give that big of a sacrifice – that’s not my role, my job, or my paygrade – but I can sacrifice my time for 40 days.”
“My goal of 365 prayer shawls does not appreciate 40 days away from that goal!,” Brooke chuckles.