Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Return of Lent

File:Pieter Bruegel the Elder- The Fight between Carnival and Lent detail 3.jpg
The Fight Between Carnival and Lent Pieter Brueghel the Elder

There are times that I am very thankful for more than thirty years of experience in ministry. There isn't much that catches me off guard anymore, and while I still humbly strive to do my best by the grace of God,  I have experience which helps me feel at home in what I do.

That's the good part. The other side is that there are times when I'm saying, "not again!" Lent is here again? What could I possibly say or do that I haven't said or done before? A season of 40 days, blah, blah, blah. A time of introspection and preparation for Holy Week and Easter, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but it's reality. And Lent can seem like a negative time in the church, the "giving up" season.

Thank God for those who nudge me toward a fresh perspective. Ruth Haley Barton offers this:

As we prepare for Lent, we are called to be as honest as we are able about the ways we have “left” God and slipped into spiritual mediocrity. “You desire truth in the inward being,” Psalm 51 points out. “Therefore, teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” As God gives us wisdom and insight about our true condition we can choose spiritual practices that are uniquely suited to help us return to God in the places where we have strayed or to renew our passion where our hearts have grown cold.
This idea of returning to God made me think about what it means to be "heartfelt" and how we define true love.  This year the beginning of Lent and Valentine's Day virtually coincide. Lent gives us the opportunity to return and reestablish our love for God.  It can give us a positive "cup half full" image rather than a negative "cup half empty" outlook.
Does Lent matter to you? Do you see it as a negative church season? Will you do anything differently in your spiritual life during Lent?

Lent: A Season of Returning


IanD said...

Can you give up Lent for Lent ... ?

Hey, someone had to ask.

Laurie said...

Thanks Ian, for my laugh of the day!

Laura said...

I'm an odd duck I guess. I actually like Lent. I like it as a bit of a darker, reflective time. We live in an age where if we aren't living the American dream we can be led to feel like we are falling way short. Advertisers guarantee happiness through magic diets, creams, cars, chocolate, even paper towels etc... seems we are supposed to be euphorically happy and in charge all of the time and if not, best to just fake it rather than deal with the muck.
For me, Lent honours being in a bit of a "funk", letting myself work through 'stuff" that I may well be avoiding because its not my best "stuff" but still knowing I am ''perfectly imperfect" in God's eyes...