Massachusetts: Young adult communities get ‘Intent’ this Lent

By Tracy J. Sukraw
Posted Feb 18, 2015
The Ash Wednesday devotional image from "Intent": A mixed-media collage by MIT undergrad Annie Dunn

The Ash Wednesday devotional image from “Intent”: A mixed-media collage by MIT undergrad Annie Dunn

[Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts] Young adults from several worshiping communities in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts are inviting one another into Lent this year with a daily dose of their own art, poetry, stories, photography, music and maybe even a cartoon or two.

And because these devotions are digital, anyone can sign up to receive them via a daily e-mail.

They’re calling the effort “Intent.”

“One goal was to find ways to take Lent seriously, something above giving up chocolate but below singing the five daily offices,” explained Isaac Everett, the liturgical minister at The Crossing, the congregation of young adults, mostly in their 20s and 30s, that worships at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.

“One thing that’s really true of our demographic is that we’re completely overcommitted,” Everett said.  “We’re in our first jobs out of college, or in school or have a baby at home. It’s difficult enough to eat or get to the gym. Trying to find time with God is really hard without some impetus — like an e-mail landing in my inbox inviting me to spend a few minutes with it and getting to know my community,” he said.

“Bite-sized instead of all-consuming” is how the Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas puts it. She is the Episcopal chaplain at MIT.

“Intent” grew out of an e-mail series of Lenten reflections that she and a colleague started two years ago at the Lutheran Episcopal Ministry at MIT. This year The Crossing and the Episcopal chaplaincies at Boston University, Northeastern University and Boston College are contributing, as well as two parish partners, St. Bartholomew’s Church in Cambridge and Emmanuel Church in Boston. Most of them have been involved together in a discernment process over the past year about the possibility of becoming a diocesan mission hub, and “Intent” is a product of the new relationships growing between their communities.

“This year it is a much larger group of partners who will be contributing and viewing,” Keith-Lucas said, “so we are going to branch out in our style, mix it up and surprise people a little bit.”

On Ash Wednesday, for example, “Intent” subscribers will receive a sunflower-bright mixed-media collage by Annie Dunn, an undergraduate at MIT studying materials science.

“Intent, that’s at the heart of it. For at least a moment in the day, try to be intentional about the season and see what it might have to offer you,” Keith-Lucas said.  “That’s the hope in keeping these devotions short, diverse and surprising.”

Everett said he thinks of “Intent” as 40 days of “liturgy delivered to your iPhone.”

“Every day is going to be cool,” he said.

Sign up to receive “Intent” e-mails daily in Lent here.