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Greetings, Diocese of Olympia and all who may be watching.

It is indeed hard to believe that this will be our third Lent in which one of our main overarching themes and topics of daily life is this ongoing pandemic. These last three years have been a rollercoaster, to say the least, up and down, feeling that this long disruption will soon end, only to have it not end, but even worsen. All the while we learn, we grow, we lament and we keep on keeping on.

As this Lent approaches, we are still there. Again, I have great hope, as I know many of you do that this will be the final turn, the final rush on that rollercoaster before we safely return to home base. But what is true, what is always true about humans living through a time such as we have is that when we do return to that home base, we will not find it the same, nor will we find ourselves the same.

As one colleague told me just as we entered into this pandemic, he said, we will be changed. And indeed, that’s true. Now, none of us would’ve manufactured a pandemic to get that to happen in our collective lives, but that is what was handed to us. And yet the church’s tradition was to build in just such a time every year in our yearly journey and rhythm of prayer, and that time is Lent.

The point of Lent was just what my colleague said was kind of the point he was taking from the pandemic. The point of Lent is this, that entered into intentionally, prayerfully, with a committed discipline and practice, if we do it that way, one thing seems certain: we will be changed. There’s no way around it.

You’ve heard me say many times what I once heard Elizabeth Wheatley say, that she felt people didn’t really fear change, but they are filled with terror at the thought of being changed. Lent is the time each year where we’re called to stretch, to bend, to enter willingly into that place where we don’t just experience change, but where we ask for it, hope for it, expect it.

So however that will work for you in every way you can, I invite you to the observance of a holy and prayerful Lent, whether it’s reigniting your prayer life or by studying and reading our Lenten books, or perhaps by reading one you have not been able or willing to read until now, taking time for yourself to think and feel and be still and know God is God, and perhaps in the process knowing yourself in ways you never have before.

So let’s lean into it, Olympia. Lent is here, we are here and we are different. May we change even more, moving ever closer to perfection in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Beloved, I wish you a blessed, holy, and life changing Lent.

Lent 2022: A Message from Bishop Rickel

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