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From Barrie Bliss - Embracing Emptiness: A Lenten Invitation

February 09, 2024 9:10 AM | Barbara MacDonald (Administrator)

Dear Redeemer Family,

As we approach the upcoming season of Lent, characterized by the symbolic color purple akin to Advent, it is a time for reflection and preparation. Our focus during this season is on preparing ourselves for the celebration of the resurrected life on Easter, a journey that involves following Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days and nights.

Traditionally, the Church has observed Lent by fasting, taking on spiritual practices, or in other words creating space in our lives for emptiness. All these spiritual practices serve as a profound acknowledgment of our humanity, a resounding "amen" to our inherent emptiness, paving the way for God to fill it with His true life on Easter morning.

Lent is an opportunity to embrace this nothingness rather than attempting to fill it with addictions, distractions, cheap comforts, or simplistic religious platitudes. We extend an invitation to you to enter into the emptiness that serves as the starting point for fullness and creativity, prompting reflection on the creation stories from Genesis.

Within both Christian and Jewish traditions, creation itself arises from emptiness: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters" (Genesis 1:1-2).

This Lent, we invite you to delve into the depths within yourself, bringing awareness to the nothingness that precedes the emergence of real life. Embrace the gift of your emptiness as we embark on a journey following Jesus into the wilderness before the dawn of resurrection morning.

All spiritual practices during Lent serve as a transformative undoing and unbecoming, a process of emptying ourselves, letting go, and surrendering to the nothingness where God can be found. Silence, fasting, prayer, and giving become vehicles for surrendering to this nothingness that ultimately creates fullness, as opposed to grasping at our own self-sufficiency and covering up our innate poverty.

Throughout Lent, let us commit to a journey of becoming more like God with God, rather than striving to become like Him apart from Him. This commitment begins on Ash Wednesday when we recognize our innate poverty, symbolized by ashes on our foreheads, acknowledging that we are but dust without God. We dedicate ourselves to refrain from filling our emptiness apart from God's true and lasting gift, bestowed on Resurrection morning.

How will you and your family intentionally make space for empty space this Lent?


Barrie Bliss

Prayer of Dependence and Abandonment to God During Lent:

"Lord, we know not what we ought to ask of Thee; Thou only know what we need; you love us better than we know how to love ourselves. O Father! give to Thy children that which we ourselves know not how to ask. We dare not ask for crosses or consolations or for the sweet bread or bitter tears; we simply present ourselves before Thee; we open our hearts to Thee. Behold our needs which we know not ourselves; see, and do according to Thy tender Mercy. We desire to adore all Thy purposes without knowing them; we are silent… we yield ourselves to Thee! We would have no other desire than to accomplish of Thy will! Teach us to pray; pray yourself in us.” - François Fénelon

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