Lent Week Five
We stand on the cusp of Holy Week. A time for us all to remember what it was that Jesus did on this earth. Which was to die on the cross. It is often difficult to fully grasp what all of this means to us as Christians. Each year we pause and reflect on what it all means for us as people and individuals. It is what we call the Paschal Mystery a rather complicated way of saying that Jesus' purpose on earth was to die for us so that we might have forgiveness of our sins.
It is a difficult concept for us to understand and one many of us wrestle with, myself included. I don't want the responsibility of Jesus' death on my hands. But how do I cause his death in my own life and living. Sometimes it is being careless with my words. Or perhaps it is being less than faithful with my prayer life. They may not be earth shattering on earth but I do believe they are heaven shattering. It is how we keep ourselves from being fully in touch with ourselves as followers of Christ. These small and seemingly insignificant actions add up to the larger sin of hubris. My thinking that I don't need to do these things which help me because I am forgiven.
We are forgiven of course but God wants us each to embrace our fullness of life with him and that is going to the cross figuratively so that we might die to our old selves and rise again and again and again as new creations.
Lent Week Three
It is already the third week of Lent and how is your Lenten discipline? I have to say in all honesty, mine has waned a bit. Each year I want to keep the promise I have made to myself Ash Wednesday but somehow I lose focus. I ask myself why? I make excuses: I set the bar too high or how does giving up chocolate make me understand Jesus' 40 days in the desert? I do and it doesn't.
What I do know is I can start and re-start my Lenten discipline as many times as I need. So today I re-commit to my Lenten discipline and I am sure I will again tomorrow. We are not called to be perfect but rather to understand our human foibles and work out from there. I have many faults and perhaps because I spend so much time thinking about them, I shy away from Lent. It might serve me and if you are like me to have a Lenten discipline where the focus is not giving something up but rather realizing where I fit into the human tapestry. I will then be able to serve God more fully.
Lent day two and I am reflecting on the service last night and how meaningful it was for so many. I addressed something that has troubled me for years which is how they Church has used gimmicks in attempt to appear relevant. The idea of "Ashes to Go" at face value sounds like an interesting premise and a way to reach out to people. But for those of us who take this aspect of our faith seriously I find it offensive.
Now we have "Glitter Ash" which is another way the Church has found to use a sacred moment in a cheap way. Now please understand I have nothing against the LGBTQ community. I believe we are all loved by God. As I asked last night why do we keep having to segment ourselves into groups? Don't we all want to be one and seen as equals? Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes of "cheap grace" in "The Cost of Discipleship" which is grace offered freely without any thought given to true repentance. When we mix the sacred with the secular we are cheapening those things we profess to be important to us in order to appear "with it." It is little wonder the Church appears to be anything but relevant and looks in my mind to be a rather foolish.
Let's get back to doing the real work of Jesus which is loving neighbor and serving the poor, not being mesmerized by every shiny thing that comes our way-including glitter.