We chose as our theme for the 40 days before Easter, "Lent is for Learning." What we had in mind was to frame our combination of fund raising for ERD (Episcopal Relief and Development) and of joining in Lent Madness - voting our favorite saints through a tournament bracket.
The shortest read on this effort is simply SUCCESS! We raised well beyond our goal of $750.00 and saw Francis of Assisi through to the championship vs. Brigid. It was fun, instructive and added to our energy and interest throughout the season. But the question remains: "what did we learn?"
For sure we know more about the basics of ERD; that as the outreach wing of the Presiding Bishop's Office they see to ministry and mission around the world and pass along dollar for dollar all the money we and every parish donate for that work.
We learned about some obscure and some less than obscure witnesses from Christian history. More than one or two among us actually voted for Hadewijch. Many of us voted for Francis. And in between those saints was an array of witnesses to which we have now joined our lives.
For sure we learned something from the way we altered our worship for Lent. Every Sunday entering in penitence with litanies, suffrages, decalogues and confessions then exiting from under the Solemn Prayer over the People insured a proper seasonality and sobriety to our Sunday celebrations. Removing the "alleluias" and "glories" helped create a little hunger in each of us for the lifting that is their use now that we have joined the rejoicing that Jesus is raised from the dead.
We learned to value the cross as a sign and our lives as the next best places for sacrificing after the example of Jesus' "obedience unto death." First we heard those stories from Mark and John and then we met those who witnessed through the sacrifice of martyrdom.
We learned how to visit our quaint and holy space more regularly, with prayers on Tuesday, Friday and throughout Holy Week. Our walking the Stations of the Cross was its own learning more and more about the depth of our Lord's efforts on our behalf.
So . . . we learned a bunch and Lent brought us to the good end of a glorious celebration with a church full of families, friends and all the faithful. Yes, we counted the 120 of you who worshipped with us at 10:30, along with the dozen from earlier that morning, and the 25 who sang the first of our Easter alleluias and like us all renewed our baptismal vows.
You can say that we passed the test because each of us reclaimed our belief in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and promised to demonstrate that faithfulness with God's help given to us through Jesus Christ.
We can recall this success each Sunday in the 50 days of Easter. First by our standing together in all our prayers as we act like believers whose salvation is assured and then by beginning and ending all our celebrations with the familiar "Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!"