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Monday, February 29, 2016

These 40 days

Because we are in the season of Lent, and it lasts 40 days, not counting Sundays, I figured I would write about the general purpose of Lent. But something stopped me from doing that. I heard the term Lenten journey just one too many times in the past week and it is sort of bothering me. So I'll let you know what I'm thinking regarding that instead.

People who have experienced the season of Lent for a bunch of years, perhaps look at it as something that has to be done. Like taking castor oil as a child. It tastes awful going down, but "it's so good for you!" mothers everywhere used to exclaim. I have heard some folks talk about this time of reflection as akin to knowing they have to do something to show they are devoted to God, but Lent just seems to last forever (I saw a movie once, where a kid enunciated every syllable of that word, FOR EV ER, stringing it out for a couple of extra beats). That's how some people see Lent. When they refer to their "Lenten Journey" it is almost like they have chosen to walk with a pebble in their shoe to show how devoted and holy they are with a sore foot.

I'm kind of tired about these analogies. To me Lent is a time to hear about how definitively Jesus shows himself to the world. How he proclaims the good news over and over again, to lame, beggars, blind, poor and misbegotten individuals. It reaffirms that goodness of God's Son in so many ways its almost impossible to enumerate them. If you feel that Lent is such a burden and such a trial, then well, cut it out! Stop that moaning and rending of garments. No one is going to come to God watching you weep, wail and gnash your teeth. And that is the whole point of being a Christian, really. Bringing people to God. Showing love and mercy because of the love and mercy showered upon you by God. Again and again in our adult Sunday School class we have discussed how you cannot talk your faith into someone. They need to see you live it. Breathe it. Act upon it. Not just on Sundays but always, everyday.

Although we have buried our Alleluias until Easter, Lent is a time to realize that those joyful shouts are still within our hearts. Our enthusiasm and overflowing love is just waiting to be tapped. You don't have to be a mournful, depressed sinner. You can be a sinner who is confident in their redemption based on the loving God of the universe. So let's lighten up, okay?