The Best Way To Keep Lent This Year
Lent is a time when many of us consider what we will give up during the forty days until Easter---a way that we can identify with Jesus' time in the wilderness, and as a means to focus on what matters most.
But yesterday someone on my Facebook Live broadcast (which happens at 9AM most weekdays if you want to join me) mentioned that maybe we've given up enough stuff already.
He had a point. We've given up a lot during this past year since we last commemorated the beginning of Lent. Back then we had no idea what was about to happen, and that in just a few short weeks our lives would change forever.
We didn't know that a global pandemic would grind the world to a halt. We didn't know that not even a year later nearly half a million people would be dead from a virus we'd never heard of before. We didn't know that we'd spend most of the year seeing friends and family through computer screens.
And for those of us in Texas right now---we didn't know we'd be giving up power and water for days as we struggle through the effects of an unprecedented winter storm.
There are miles yet to go in this wilderness journey through Lent, but it's a journey worth taking if you have the strength to know what to take up, and what to let go of.
Instead of giving up things that are minor inconveniences at best, try giving up something that has the power to change you for good, and maybe the world around you as well.
I think if I had to make a choice about what to give up right now, I'd want to give up worry... dread... anger... uncertainty... things like that. They aren't serving me all that well, to be honest. They're probably not serving you well either.
I'd also like to give up my need for control, and more importantly, the illusion that I can control anything in the first place.
There's a lot that we should give up, and we should consider well what needs to be left behind on the Lenten path. But there's even more that we should take up, I'm thinking.
We should take up peacemaking in our own hearts and with ourselves and then with those with whom we struggle to find peace. We should take up forbearance in a world that seems to be marked and measured by which side we are on, and how firmly we are on that side.
We should take up prayer---in a very real sense, and as a practice that we engage in every day, and sometimes more than once a day. We should take up forgiveness where it is needed most. We should take up joy because the world needs more of it.
And we should take up love, and all that comes with loving beyond the amorphous borders that exist between us and others. We should take up love because love is what will save the day---what has always saved the day.
As you step further into this season of preparation and discovery may you learn what it means to "keep a holy Lent," as our Medieval church fathers and mothers might say. May you discover what really matters to God as you stumble after Jesus in the wilderness.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.