Return to God with all your heart

The Most Reverend Lynne McNaughton
By on February 28, 2024

Archbishop Lynne’s Lenten Reflection

People have been creating cartoons and jokes because this year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 14, Valentine’s Day. But it does seem appropriate: Lent really is a season of the heart. In Lent, God invites us into the deeper relationship God longs to have with each of us, the union with the Divine, which we each seek. In the Ash Wednesday readings, God urges “return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2). We pray the words of Psalm 51: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Paul entreats the Corinthians: ”Be Reconciled with God.”

Preparing for new life at Easter, we open ourselves to God’s transformation of our lives. The collect for Ash Wednesday sums up our stance before God in the season of Lent: “acknowledege our brokenness.” Returning to God with all our heart requires a searching honesty before God. Every Anglican Eucharist begins with the Collect for Purity:

Almighty God,
To you all hearts are open,
All desires known,
And from you no secrets are hidden.
Cleanse the thoughts of our heart
By the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love you,
And worthily magnify your holy name,
Through Christ our Lord.

Again, honest open hearts before God are necessary for worship and for a transformative closeness with the Holy One. The disciplines or spiritual practices of Lent are to help us toward that honesty in our relationship with God, with whom “no secrets are hidden.” The Twelve Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, the addictions recovery program, has immense spiritual wisdom for healing in community; the fourth step is to create a “searching, fearless moral inventory,” naming those we have wronged, admitting our faults and helplessness.

What spiritual practice helps you into this kind of honesty? Journaling, talking to a trusted friend, a formal confession with your priest or spiritual director?

I think in the chaos of our time, the Lenten phrase “acknowledging our brokenness” is particularly helpful as a spiritual practice to move us out of numbness and stuckness. We feel helpless and caught in much of the evil of our time: what can I do in the face of genocide in Gaza? What good do my small life-style choices make in the overconsumption, greed and destruction of the earth. “Acknowledging our brokenness,” lamenting our corporate sin, is freeing, healing, and re-energizing.

One practice that some people find helpful in Lent is “The Reconciliation of a Penitent” on Page 166 in the BAS. If there is a particular wrong you have done for which you find it hard to find forgiveness, speaking confidentially to your priest, opening our heart before another human being and hearing the words of God’s forgiveness, may bring you closure and help you to let go and begin anew.

God is at work transforming us, freeing us and moving us toward abundant life. May you find Lenten practices that cooperate with the Holy One, our compassionate God of Love, who is creating in us a clean heart.

In trust, we allow God our healer to perform open-heart surgery.

Blessings for a Holy Lent!




  • Lynne McNaughton

    Most Reverend Dr. Lynne McNaughton is the tenth Bishop of Kootenay, and is the 13th Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon.

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