FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT 2013
I have a suggestion…
Do not waste your time
looking up the word Lent
in your Bible Dictionary.
And I am sure, as good Episcopalians,
great scholars of the Bible that we are,
you’ve got that ready at the hand.
there was no such thing as Lent in biblical times.
There is some evidence that early Christians fasted 40 hours
between Good Friday and Easter,
but the custom of spending 40 days
in prayer and self-denial
did not come back until much later…
When the initial rush of Christian adrenaline was over
and believers had gotten very ho-hum about their faith.
They hung a wooden cross on the wall
and settled back into their more or less comfortable routines.
Little by little, Christians became devoted to their comforts…
and before long it was very hard to pick them out
from the population at large.
But something changed…
and someone suggested it was time
to call Christians back to their senses,
and the Bible offered clues about how to do that.
They remembered that Israel
spent 40 years in the wilderness
learning to trust the Lord.
And that Elijah, and much later Jesus
would spend 40 days in the desert.
So the early church announced a season of Lent.
The word actually comes from the old English,
and means "spring."
So in essence, this season becomes an invitation
to experience the springtime of our souls.
To clean out our systems and open our eyes
to what remains when all worldly comforts are gone.
We are to remember what it is like
to live by the grace of God alone
and not by how we can comfort ourselves.
I think of Lent as like an Outward Bound for the soul.
No one has to sign up for it,
but if you do
then you give up the illusion
that you are in control of your life.
So, think about a time…
when you found yourself lacking control
and stuck in the middle of nowhere…
it may have been an actual place, or
it could have been metaphorically stuck
in the middle of a bad relationship, job or depression.
When this happens,
I find that food become a pacifier –
a habit, or substance I use to comfort myself,
and block out pain or fear.
I am convinced that 99 percent of us are addicted to something,
whether it is eating, shopping, blaming or taking care of other people.
The simplest definition of an addiction is –
anything we use to fill that empty place inside of us
that belongs to God, alone.
But here is the good news…
that hollowness we feel sometimes
is not a sign of something gone wrong.
this is ground zero in our souls…
for where the holy of holies resides within us.
Nothing on earth can fill it,
but that does not stop us from trying.
For the next 40 days,
try to pay attention
to how often your mind travels to that empty place.
And ask yourself why does this happen?
What is going on when you start craving a Mars bar?
If you are hungry,
what’s wrong with being hungry?
If are you lonely,
what’s so bad about being alone?
Try sitting with the feeling….staying in that place,
instead rushing to fix it
and see what you can discover.
You may hear a voice in your head
that warns you…
“Don’t give up that pacifier,
“because you can’t make it on your own…”
And if that doesn’t work,
the tempters voice will move to level two:
"If God really loves you,
you can do whatever you want.
Why waste your time on Lent?"
If you don’t recognize that voice,
I suggest re-reading today’s Gospel.
Then tell the devil to go back to that special Hot place,
and decide what you will do for Lent.
Better yet, decide WHOSE you will be this Lent.
“Worship the Lord your God
and serve no one else.”
Expect great things, from God and from yourself.
Believe that everything is possible.
Why should any of us…settle for less?