It has been a few weeks since we have met together. This snow is endless. In November I was chatting with someone who told me the Farmer’s Almanac was predicting a snowy winter. I smiled at her and pushed that information out of my mind. Well, after living in a snow globe for the month of February, her words have floated back into my mind. In our absence from one another, the season of Epiphany has slipped through our fingers and without much fanfare the extravagant lights of Epiphany, doused with Alleluias and wonder, have been packed away. In their place we are left with the solemnity of ashes, fasting and repentance. Perhaps you are feeling the way I am feeling, that we were cheated out of the last few weeks of Epiphany. That in these past few weeks of snow and ice and shoveling, Lent came early.
The thing about Lent that gets lost in our talk of fasting and repentance is that it is actually and paradoxically, Lent is a season of new beginnings. Just look at the texts for this week: Noah is newly off the ark and Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit is declaring the presence of the Reign of God.(HINT: The blue, underlined words are links)
The story of Noah offers a response to those who seemingly find the wrath of God every.single.place they look. Enter the rainbow. In it we are offered the continual promise that never again will the fury of God be unleashed on the earth. The story of Noah is a story of God’s love for the world, it is a story of God’s salvation of the world. It is the story, that is the new beginning of things and holds the whispered promise that we are not alone.
Our other story is the story of Jesus, walking onto the scene as John the Baptist is arrested and killed. Jesus comes with a story of repentance, a story of restoration. The message of Jesus is that God is making us whole despite all evidence to the contrary. He calls it Good News. Why is it so much easier to believe bad news? Why do we so easily slide away from his petition to stop seeing and proclaiming the darkness and instead point to the presence of Light and proclaim Good News?
It is common to talk about abstinence during this season of repentance. People give up chocolate or caffeine or alcohol or meat. Inevitably there can be a puffing up of our own holiness and conversely a judgement of others in this process. My friends, we can not earn our way in to God’s Reign through self-improvement. Christianity is not a self-help book. This was not and is not the Good News. The message of Jesus is simple, God is making you whole. God is making the world whole. Tell others. Point out wholeness when you see it and call the brokenness what it is: lies. Join God in this work...make the small things whole that you can. Not because you can bring the kingdom but because God has called us partner and friend.
So as we begin this season, start with yourself. Look at your own life. I believe it was Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Examine yourself. Be honest...as frightening as that can be. Consider the things that are lingering inside yourself that do not contribute to your wholeness and give those up. Or just pick one of them. We do not give things up to make ourselves perfect in order to be loved by God. We give things up through the help of the Holy Spirit because “we are becoming who we will be forever.” (Dallas Willard) It might look different for each of us. Here are a few examples:
Fear of Failure - We do not succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fail forward
Your Comfort Zone - It is when we step outside our comfort zones that new discoveries are made
Feelings of Unworthiness - You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the God who loves you.
Impatience - God’s timing is perfect timing
Retirement - As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason
Comparisons - Celebrate your own unique contributions
Blame - We take responsibility for our own actions...even when it is hard
Guilt - We are loved by Jesus. We are forgiven. Today is a new day.
Overcommitment - Do less better
Worry….A small view of God...Ungratefulness...Disunity...Loneliness...Busyness… Resistance to Change...
To the list goes on. Click Here to read more.
Let us step forward this season as the little lights who shine in the darkness. Let us live as little christs because that is exactly who we are. Let us not be afraid of self change because the God who loves us is making us whole.