The season of Lent: time to consider your Rule of Life

Bishop Linda NichollsBy Bishop Linda Nicholls

Each of us inherits gifts from our parents. One of the greatest gifts in my life has been my mother’s love of music. Although circumstances prevented her from developing her own musical talents she ensured that I would have the opportunity through playing the piano.

Like many children I seem to recall complaining about the need to practice. Yet the longer I was encouraged to persevere and make practicing a part of my daily routine the more I came to enjoy my capacity to make music and that turned into a lifelong passion. Through my life the gift of being able to play has allowed me to delight in everything from Broadway musicals to Bach, solo accompaniment to church services!

The key was a daily perseverance and practice of the skills needed. This is equally true of relationships. Whether with a friend or a spouse, good relationships require the gift of time and intentional commitment – growing and learning together through a daily time spent together with the intention of deepening the relationship.

That is why Christians throughout the centuries have developed practices that build our capacity to follow Jesus, to live as Christians in the world in relationship with God. These practices take time and intention and need to be regularly renewed and strengthened.

Lent is the season where we take stock of our practices and are invited to renew them. The Book of Common Prayer invites us to set a Rule of Life (page 555) that includes regular attendance at worship; prayer, Bible reading and self-discipline; following Christ in daily life; bold spoken witness of our faith; service to Church and community and financial support for the work of the Church locally and globally.

What does your Rule of Life look like?

Mine includes a daily time of prayer, including Morning Prayer; reading of scripture; an annual silent retreat. Although my vocation keeps me in worship and witness, I practice self-examination for all of the human weaknesses that keep me from reflecting Christ in my daily life. A financial commitment of tithing to the church and community has been part of my life since I was a student.

As we enter into this season of Lent – take time to consider your Rule of Life – where does it need to be strengthened? Where is it working well? What one change will you practice in these 40 days of Lent to deepen your relationship with God?

Almighty God, whose Son fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are but did not sin, give us grace to discipline ourselves in submission to your Spirit, that as you know our weakness, so we may know your power to save; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.