No doubt by now most of you have heard of the new artificial intelligence software, ChatGPT, that we’re told is ushering in a new area of technological innovation not seen since the rise of social media some 15 years ago—yay!

ChatGPT is billed as a powerful piece of software that can scour the internet for useful information and package it within a simple chat function. It’s only wrong sometimes. But of course it’s up to you to figure out when!

Among the many questions raised by this leap in technology is how it might render countless jobs presently performed by humans irrelevant. Curious about how my own vocation might fare in the face of such a threat, I asked ChatGPT to write this week’s Now. Here This. under the prompt, “How should I observe Lent this year?” 

Here’s what it gave me. Enjoy! (I’ll have a few concluding thoughts at the end.)

Lent is a time of reflection, repentance, and preparation for Easter, and there are many ways you can observe this season. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Give up something: Traditionally, people give up something they enjoy during Lent as a form of sacrifice and self-discipline. This could be anything from sweets to social media to television.
  2. Add something: Instead of giving something up, you could add something to your routine. This could be something like volunteering, reading a religious text, or spending more time in prayer.
  3. Attend church: Lent is a time when many churches hold special services and events, such as Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services. Attending these events can help you reflect on the season and deepen your spiritual practices.
  4. Practice forgiveness: Lent is a time to reflect on our own shortcomings and seek forgiveness for our sins. Consider reaching out to someone you may have wronged and asking for their forgiveness.
  5. Fast: Fasting is another traditional practice during Lent. You could fast by abstaining from food for a period of time, or by fasting from something else that is important to you.

Remember, the most important thing is to approach Lent with a spirit of humility, openness, and reflection. Whatever you choose to do during this season, make sure it is something that will help you grow spiritually and draw closer to God.

Well, that made me a little nervous! I expected “give something up” and “fast,” was impressed by “add something,” was grateful for “attend church” and was a little taken aback by “practice forgiveness”–that’s some higher level spiritual counseling. 

So, to ease my mind I asked a follow-up: “How might a pastor have offered a better answer to that question?” ChatGPT’s response: 

As an AI language model, I am not able to evaluate the quality of a pastor’s answer. However, a pastor may be able to offer a more tailored response to this question based on their understanding of the individual’s spiritual background, interests, and personal goals. They may be able to provide more specific guidance on how to observe Lent in a way that aligns with the individual’s beliefs and practices. Additionally, a pastor may be able to offer additional resources such as Lenten devotionals or recommend specific Lenten practices that are commonly observed in their denomination or tradition. Ultimately, a pastor’s response may be more personalized and grounded in their knowledge of the individual’s needs and spiritual journey.

That was a relief! 

Which reminds me, we’ll have details about our Holy Week schedule out next week, devotionals are available in the church office, we continue this week with our Wednesday Bible Study, “The Poetry of Lent,” and if you’d like to get together for coffee or, well, any pastoral need a computer can’t meet, my email is


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