Bishop’s Lenten/Easter Message: Burning Hearts

“Were not our hearts burning within us

while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:32

 

Every year the Church gives us the season of Lent to spiritually prepare ourselves for the great feast of Easter. Lent is given to us as a time to turn our minds and our hearts to the Lord and examine how we might grow closer in our relationship with Christ and walk in the footsteps of Christ in service to God’s people.

During Lent, we open ourselves more to the Lord. In a word, we use the season of Lent to be converted to the ancient disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We engage in these practices so that we might recognize our need for God and one another. The Lenten disciplines help us express our repentance and proclaim our belief that we are called to walk with Christ in ways of peace, truth and love. The forty days of Lent prepare us to celebrate the Easter Feast with greater joy. The self-emptying disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving give us an opportunity to discover the compassionate and loving dimensions of a God who invites us into a life-giving relationship with all of Creation.

At Easter, we sing our Alleluias and shout out our joy at all things made new by Christ’s Resurrection. The Resurrection not only gives meaning to our Lenten practices, but also to our lives as Christians. Christ has conquered death and has, as God promised, given us the gift of eternal life. Lent gives us the capacity at Easter to be aware of who God is and what God’s love is capable of—that is, that all of creation has the capacity for God’s gift of redemption in Christ.

The whole world is made new at Easter and we enter into the Season of Easter with a sense of peace that passes all understanding.

In our Easter joy we can see how our Lenten practices have aided us in recognizing how God’s love, manifest in the Incarnation, invites us into living the reality of the Kingdom present in the here and now. The simple joy of living in Christ becomes more and more attractive at Easter because of our dedication to our acts of conversion and repentance during Lent.

During the Easter season we hear how our ancestors in the faith encountered the resurrected Christ in the Word and the Breaking of the Bread. We hear how their hearts were on fire as Jesus spoke to them and told them the story of their life together. Like the disciples on to road to Emmaus, we continue to turn to the Lord because God’s dialogue of love requires a response from us. The grace of Easter gives us the spiritual energy to continue the dialogue as a way of maintaining our Lenten conversions and of turning our hearts to the Lord. We, too, seek Christ in the Living Word of God and in the Breaking of the Bread, so that we might be fed and be nourished to stand with our mothers and fathers in faith and say, our hearts are still on fire, because we still see Christ in the breaking of the bread, shared with all of God’s creation.

 

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

He is Risen as he said!

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

 

The Most Reverend George Lucey, FCM

Presiding Bishop

St. Francis of Assisi ANCC (Glen Ridge, NJ)

 

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