What are you doing for Lent?

What are you doing for Lent?

That seems to be a common question around this time of year.  For whatever reason, we ask what others are doing for Lent, either giving up or taking on.  Maybe that's because we want an assurance that we aren't the only one practicing a Lenten discipline.  Maybe it's because we want to figure out how we stack up – how does giving up desserts compare to fasting every Friday?  Maybe it's just religious small talk, akin to, “How are you enjoying the weather?”  Or maybe that's just me.

As a rule I don't discuss my Lenten discipline.  Part of that reasoning comes from Scripture when Jesus admonishes those who fast to wash their faces, put oil on their heads, and not let people know you are fasting.  “Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing,” he says.

I'm going to break that rule this year. 

Since I arrived at St. John's, I have found myself busier than I think I have ever been as a priest.  That happens in a parish this size with the amount of things we have going on around here.  And it seems that every day when I go home, I go home thoroughly exhausted.  I'm not complaining – it's been a very good busy and a good tired.  But, upon reflection, I discovered that I was doing too much time reacting to things rather than having a good plan.

My Lenten discipline this year, therefore, is to fix that.  And I think I have a plan.

I've been working on a weekly schedule that puts things into blocks of time.  It's taken a few drafts, and a few suggestions to tweak it, but I think I've got it.  This schedule includes times to meet with people both in and out of the office; it includes times for prayer, study, and education; it includes times for worship; and it includes times to be visible around Hagerstown.

My hope is that it will help me be more proactive in how I go about the job of being your priest, as well as offering needed flexibility to react when necessary.  Melonie, as well as the rest of the staff, has a copy of the schedule and she knows when and where I am available.

What I'm asking from the good people of St. John's is for you to help hold me to it.  Please be understanding when requesting appointments.  Please call me to accountability when I seem to get out of whack.  And please know I am doing this to (possibly) avoid past mistakes and be the priest you all deserve.

As it turns out, sometimes it IS important for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing.

May your Lent be filled with discovery,


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