The Gift of Lent

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministries

O God, our Great Companion
Lead us day by day
Deeper into the mystery of life
And help us to become
Interpreters of life to our fellows.

Henry Sylvester Nash, a former professor at The Episcopal Theological Seminary and, at one time, recognized as the foremost New Testament scholar in the country, wrote this prayer. I find it important to remember, and even name, God "our Great Companion." God is not far away or looking down at us. God is with us, and even within us, living as our guide, partner, and yes, companion.

This is important to remember for at least two reasons. First, it reminds us we are not alone. No matter where we find ourselves at this stage in our life, retired or at a new job, parenting children or caring for older parents, studying or playing, crying or laughing, lost or at prayer, God is with us. God is with us as Companion. Secondly, being married to a Latin major, I happen to know that the word "companion," a Middle English word, comes from Old French, compaignon, and is literally translated ‘one who breaks bread with another,' based on Latin com- ‘together with' + panis ‘bread.' Therefore, naming God as our companion, or one with whom we break bread, reminds us that we find God in the breaking of the bread at the Eucharist, and in our sharing a sacred meal with another person or people. Remember: it was in the breaking of the bread that the disciples finally recognized Jesus, whom they thought to be a stranger, post the resurrection.

I invite you to take this prayer with you this month. For the first two weeks of the month, we will be in Lent and Holy Week. Nice to know God is traveling with us as we complete our Lenten cleanse, fast, or study. Notice how God is revealed to you at the Eucharist or when you share a meal with a loved one. Then once Easter morning comes and you live in the last two weeks of the month notice how God is still present to you at the Eucharist and as you break bread with the one you love but in a newly resurrected way. God is with us now. God will be with us then. God is with us always as our Great Companion inviting us to live as whole, resurrected, adored companions of God.