From The Pastor’s Desk
“Give Up Something Bad for Lent”
With little fanfare and at best cautious enthusiasm, we gathered this past week to smear ashes on our forehead, be reminded of our mortality and sinfulness, repent, and commit ourselves to a Lenten journey of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Admittedly, I really did not want to do Ash Wednesday this year (or any other year for that matter). Despite my misgivings, I have concluded that as much as I do not want to “do” Ash Wednesday or Lent, I need both in my life. Much like the season of Advent, Lent is also a season of preparation where we are invited to reflect deeply on our lives, our failings, our longings, and ultimately our need for God.
While we may not need Lent to do this kind of introspection, we do need the focused time and discipline that the Lenten journey prompts us to consider. I have grown to appreciate Lent for the vulnerability that it encourages and that I often try to hide. I have learned to welcome the often-uncomfortable challenges and accountability that Lent demands. And I have certainly come to cherish the anticipated sense of acceptance, forgiveness, and renewal that comes at Easter.
To some degree the Lenten journey is very personal; however, just like our faith, while the journey is personal, it is not meant to be private. Part of the wisdom of the Church in celebrating Lent as a liturgical season is that we get to do it together for a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays). You see, it is the gift of sharing the journey that brings the personal reflections, challenges, and commitments to change all together in ways that lead to transformation not only of our lives but also our world.
This year we will participate and prepare for Easter together at St. Jacob’s by sharing the challenge to “Give up something bad for Lent.” Based on the Lenten study by James Moore, we will explore what it means to give up something bad while preparing to fully embrace the good news of Easter and take up the challenge of living a Resurrection life.
During Lent, Christians often give something up as an act of sacrifice and spiritual discipline. How many times have we given up something considered a luxury or excess, like chocolate or sweets, with every intention of taking them back up after Easter? Sometimes, we even “joke” about giving up exercise or liver for Lent – things that are not part of our lives anyway. But is there something more? Surely, whatever we give up should be done with purpose, intention, and a sense of resolve to be changed, and maybe should be something that we do not take back up again at all.
Through our study, we will take up Moore’s challenge to give up something we are better off not doing – something that has the potential to transform our relationships and our living – something bad that keeps us from living fully into the persons that God has created us to be and longs for us to become still. It can be scary admitting to those places in our lives where we are perhaps less kind or pleasant than we would want anyone else to know. It will feel incredibly vulnerable to name aloud shortcomings and faults that we would prefer to keep to ourselves. But it can also be incredibly freeing to know we are accepted and loved as we are even as we are invited to be transformed by God’s Holy Spirit for transformation in this life and the next.
As I have shared before, Jesus is passionate about our hearts and about us doing the things that will lead to a more abundant life for all. In making our way to the cross during this Lenten season, my prayer is that we will not only have a Holy Lent but also a transformative one as we “Give Up Something Bad for Lent” and take up that which would lead us to the resurrection power of Easter.
With you on the Journey,