By Amanda Highben
Once you receive this issue of The Chimes, the Church will be more than halfway through the forty days of Lent. Palm Sunday and Holy Week will be near and, with them, Jerusalem and the cross of our Crucified Lord.
If you’d hoped and planned to practice a spiritual discipline this Lent-such as spending more time in prayer, silence and meditation or giving-up something that too often veers you off the path you’re called to walk as Jesus’ disciple (e.g., too much time online, gossip, bearing grudges )-but your old self and ways stubbornly resurfaced, consider renewing your commitment during Holy Week. With our God of grace it is never too late to repent, to be forgiven, to start again. After all, God knows our sins and weaknesses; God knows our need for Christ and the cross, for transformation, light and new life.
As Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber writes:
We journey with Jesus through the desert of Lent but it’s almost as at though we have to clear through a whole lot of brush to even get to desert. Lent is about hacking through self-delusion and false promises. Lent is about looking at our lives in as bright a light as possible, the light of Christ, to illumine that which moth and rust can consume and which thieves can steal. It is during this time of self-reflection and sacrificial giving and prayer that we make our way through the over grown and tangled mess of our lives. We trudge through the lies of our death-denying culture to seek the simple weighty truth of who we really are. (1)
One gift of Lent is that is gives us a chance to reflect on “who we really are” as God’s people and the Church-and for us, in particular, who we are and will be as the people of St. John’s Lutheran. I addressed this last question regarding who we are at St. John’s through a series of questions when I preached on the First Sunday in Lent, and I think they bear repeating here:
Will we welcome visitors who might seem threatening because they are different? Will we seek to know and love *everyone* in this place or only those we know well? Will we isolate ourselves within these walls and lament the days when our pews were filled or will we look for new ways to share Jesus with our neighbors?
Of course these are not comfortable questions to ask of ourselves; nor do they have easy answers. There is no book or website that will give us failproof strategies for becoming the church that is a perfect reflection of Christ. Still, I often remind myself that God does not call us to be perfect; God calls us to be faithful. . .to faithfully follow Jesus to the cross and, at last, to the empty tomb.
(1) “Why I love Ash Wednesday and Lent part 2: Death” at patheos.com