Welcome to week three of your Great Lenten Journey. I really should say OUR Great Lenten Journey since as Orthodox we believe that the Church is a communal experience. We have been baptized into Christ, and therefore each other. As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12.26) So we are all experiencing Great Lent together with all its ups and downs, all its struggles and successes. Our unity is not limited to those who struggle today but includes those who have struggled throughout the centuries.
As you know may know, each Sunday during Great Lent has a sub-theme associated with our journey. Each sub-theme is meant to inspire us to continue to engage the journey. Last week we were reminded of the truth of Orthodoxy. Yesterday’s sub-theme was the commemoration of Saint Gregory Palamas, a Fourteenth Century Father of the Church who argued that we could, by God’s grace, experience His uncreated energies. We are inspired by the Church to recall that God doesn’t just want us to know about Him, He desires us actually know Him and live united to Him and experience Him.
As we enter the third week of Great Lent, this reminder from Saint Gregory Palamas should serve to boost us through the next week. It is like a relay race, each week being an individual leg of a longer journey, joined together by brief reminders (like water stations in a marathon) that refresh our soul to continue on to the next stop. Not only are our soul refreshed, but our bodies receive a boost as well since our fasting is eased on weekends.
If you for some reason missed attending Divine Liturgy yesterday, you missed the chance to connect with your teammates in the relay. You’re not in this race alone. You are a member of a team called the Church. Our team has coaches, medics, refreshment committees, and trainers all to help us on our journey together. That is one reason we offer our Daily Lenten Journey each year at Be Transfigured Ministries. We consider part of the team. If we can help inspire other members of team to keep going, then we all win. So here’s to a blessed week three! May we all reach the finish line together, because Great Lent is a relay, not an individual sport!