By Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman, Pastor
March 1, 2023
I imagine that few of us think of Lent as a season to savor.
Depending on what part of the Christian world we grew up in, we may not think of Lent much at all. But in the last few years I’ve come to wonder if we are missing an invitation into a season both countercultural and life giving.
The season begins of course with Ash Wednesday when we gather to be reminded that we are neither self-made nor superior to the rest of creation, but true creatures of earth. That we come from holy dust and to holy dust we shall return. It is an invitation to think less of ourselves – not to think less well of ourselves, but to be freed from thinking of ourselves as incessantly as our culture (and perhaps our habits) cause us to.
Historically ash Wednesday ushered in a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in repentance and in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Repentance is sometimes equated with being penitent or sorrowful for one’s faults. But a better translation of the Greek word “repent” found in the New Testament is to turn, or return to God, to reorient one’s heart and mind.
Some suggested ways to embrace a season of turning using the three traditional pillars of Lent (with thanks to Br. Matt Wooters for his suggestions):
Prayer: Focus on relationships by using that stack of Christmas cards you still haven’t recycled. Choose a different one each day, give thanks for and pray for each sender. Or pray your way through your address book, or our KMUCC church directory.
Fasting: I encourage you to fast from the thing you use for comfort that, in the end, is more numbing that comforting – for me that would be mindless, mind-numbing news scrolling on my phone. For someone else it might be shopping for things you don’t actually want or need, or eating food that neither nourishes your body nor delights your palate.
Almsgiving: We think of this as giving money to support people in need. I know that this congregation is already generous in giving. Perhaps for lent instead of giving more, you can give differently, asking – “what is something I have that other people might need.” Having returned to good health in the last couple of years, I plan to follow Br. Matt’s example by giving blood during lent. Perhaps you have time you could use calling or visiting someone lonely, or providing an afternoon of childcare for an overstretched family, or ….?
Lent is an invitation to root ourselves in our belovedness in God and then turn our attention to loving others freely and well.
Wishing you a truly countercultural and life-giving lent.