Lent: An Invitation to Re-ligion
But this isn’t what true religion is. Brain McLaren, for instance, calls that sort of expression and experience of faith, deligion. Instead, re-ligion in its richest sense might be rediscovered in two possible origins of the word, appearing from sometime in the first century. Some scholars favour re-lego, meaning to ‘re-read’. We come together again and again to re-read the story of God and ponder its meaning for the hopes, fears, joys and sorrows of our current context. Other scholars argue for re-ligio, meaning to ‘re-join’ (as in ligament). We come together again and again to re-join with God and one another through ancient rhythms of soulful wisdom found in the Christian tradition. We connect to something much bigger and richer than ourselves.
Today is Ash Wednesday in the church calendar. Its name comes from the custom of marking a cross with ashes on the forehead as a sign of humble acceptance of one’s mortality and a re-turning to God with simple trust. Ash Wednesday invites us to set our face towards Jerusalem—just as Jesus did (Luke 9:51)—to re-read and re-join through a 40 day season of spiritual spring-cleaning. With whom do we resonate as we re-read the Gospel stories? What do the rhythms of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection mean for us? Where are we re-joined to them in our own daily journey? How might practices of both giving up and taking up over Lent cultivate a gentle curiosity in the ‘more’ to which God offers us?
In this series of weekly Lenten reflections, we pray you might lean into a life-giving invitation to re-ligion, in its richest, fullest sense.
You might like to enter your Lenten journey with this simple ‘imposition of ashes’ with others or by yourself.
Dip your thumb in some ash and make the sign of the cross on the forehead, saying:
Close with quiet and stillness
Bruce is Head of Spiritual Direction at Tabor. He is passionate about helping others ‘talk the walk’ in ways that cultivate deep, reflective, and congruent living, so they can more faithfully walk their talk. This is expressed through his teaching (reflective practice, formation, pastoral care, spirituality, spiritual direction), scholarship, spiritual direction practice and curation of retreats.