Do you keep a task list? Do you prioritize it? Do you eliminate little tasks as they come along, then move on to bigger projects, or do you focus on the more substantial and time-consuming items first and take care of the minutiae later? Do you assign the first three letters of the alphabet to denote, respectively, “urgent,” “important,” and “nice.” Many time management experts, going a step beyond mere prioritization, believe that their clients can improve productivity by devising fairly strict personal schedules at the beginning of the week or the day. Some executives even have personal assistants who organize their appointments and schedules. (Oh, wouldn’t it be great to have someone in the next office come over to my desk and say, “Dr. Gallagher, it’s time for your organ practice now.”)
The church has given us a schedule, called the liturgical calendar, and we all have an important appointment coming up next week. Next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), we will meet at 6:30 in the sanctuary to begin the forty-day Lenten journey. Our appointment is with the God who meets us at our places of weakness, who demonstrates – through personal experience – an all-encompassing understanding of our vulnerability, and who walks with us during times of pain and suffering. It is on Ash Wednesday that we have a special hour of prayer and worship to acknowledge our imperfections, to recreate a renewed spirit in ourselves and each other, and to include God in the Lenten journey, which is an annual process of discernment and penitence. It is our scheduled time to forgive and to ask forgiveness.