In churches that follow the liturgical calendar, this is the season of Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter (not counting Sundays). Lent is a period of reflection with the aim of clearing away the barriers to our relationship with God. We are better able to celebrate – and then to share the good news of – Christ’s resurrection if these spiritual obstacles have been dismantled.
In a sense the time between settled ministers is in itself a Lenten observance.
Both are times of preparation. There is something that is “not yet.” We wait for what is to come, but our waiting is active, engaged, purposeful. Our hearts need this time during which God makes us ready.
Both are times of wonder. “What is God up to?” is a primary question of this season, as is “Where can we join God in this work?”
Both call for self-study. We look back at where we have been and what brought us to where we are now. We consider what forms us spiritually – what we want to hold fast to – and what distracts us from our relationship with God and thus needs to be culled.
Both are fraught with potential challenges. Lent and interim seasons are wilderness journeys. There’s real danger that we might double-down on the things that keep us from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbors as ourselves.
Both inspire humility – and awe. We realize that we cannot move faithfully into the future under our own power. That God is present even when we don't immediately recognize it. And that God’s love is pulling us forward toward a purpose that takes our breath away.
What would it take for your congregation to embrace the transition time as spiritual journey?