Feb 26, 2024 | Bishop John Schol

These days we are traveling through the season of Lent, the weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday—40 days, excluding Sundays. While we may honor sacrifices during Lent, Sundays are considered mini-Easters and are not days to sacrifice, but to celebrate and enjoy.

However, in my childhood, my mom made huge sacrifices on Sundays to get four children up, fed, dressed and to the church in time for Sunday school.

The word Lent is from the old English word “lencten,’ meaning Spring season or lengthening. When you think of it, Spring is the season of lengthening of our days and our sunlight.

For Christians, Lent is traditionally the season of preparing for Easter through fasting, sacrifice, repentance and study. In a sense, this is lengthening as well. We increase our commitment to spiritual disciplines for renewal in our preparation to celebrate Easter.

While on one hand we are in a season of lengthening, that means something else is being reduced. For instance, while daylight is lengthening, the night is growing shorter. When we fasting, prayer and study, it means other things in our lives have to decrease increase.

The Christian seasons bring balance and order to church life and to our daily lives. Balance and order are important. Many of us live this life between chaos and order.

Sunday mornings in my house while growing up were a dance between chaos and order. Sometimes it looked like chaos was winning; but in the end, we would all arrive fed, dressed and ready for Sunday school.

Sometimes in the world, and in the church, it looks like chaos is winning. But just as in the Creation story, God has a way of making beautiful things out of chaos. It is a delicate balance of the right amount of lengthening some things and shortening others.

I have always found in the midst of chaos that prayer, fasting and sacrifice widen my perspective and bring order and balance.

In the church we have been through some difficult seasons, and now we emerge on the other side. I am grateful for how we are able to balance all of the challenges together and now find ourselves ready to embrace all that God has for us. Thank you for being a Lenten and Easter people.

Keep the faith!

Bishop John Schol
The United Methodists of Eastern Pennsylvania and Greater New Jersey