Spring Ahead! 2019
Some years ago on Long Island I was at a restaurant with friends in early spring. Our server – according to her lilting accent – was from Ireland. Before we ordered she explained that the steak on the menu had just sold out. And then she added with some exasperation, “I can’t believe how many people order steak in Lent!”
Unlike our widespread celebrations of Christmas, Lent is a church event that has long been passed by in American culture, and sometimes even in the church. Let’s face it: it seems to be one of those seasons only the very religious people would care about. Penitence and deprivation aren’t enticing; we would rather focus on spring flowers and pretty Easter eggs! Yet when it is reframed, Lent can be seen as not so much a time of “giving up” but an opportunity to clear away the things that keep us from the fullness of life. In other words, as we anticipate God’s forgiveness on Good Friday and the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter, our Lent can reflect the process of cleansing and renewal that is key to spiritual strength.
That is why some people choose to “fast” during Lent from things that offer short term gratification but leave us empty in the long run: overeating, excessive internet time, binging movies. Alternatively, we can take on a new life-giving habit for the 40 days, such as volunteering for a worthy cause, adapting an environmental-friendly habit, spending time reading scripture or praying. Some might choose to declutter each week; some might intentionally refrain from all negative speech, I know someone who once abstained from impulse purchasing – and continued that long after Lent. Of course, the Spirit will lead us to choose what will be beneficial for us.
In ancient Israel, the people of God heard God say, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him…” (Deuteronomy 31:19b-20). This time of year, to choose life means to choose a Lenten practice that we can stick to and open the door to abundant life. On Sundays in church our worship will be designed to support Lenten spirituality.
May you enter into this holy season with hope, and emerge overflowing with God’s grace and love!
For Union Chapel Happenings this spring, please read our newsletter.Spring Ahead 2019 Newsletter