As the season of Lent approaches, it strikes me that it poses a particular challenge for us as Christians today. We humans are a relatively batty lot, with splintered attention and divided values; it’s adaptive, in a world in which we must flit from task to task with rapidity. We may be deep in reading one moment, and off to save supper from the microwave the next.
Lent is a time when we are supposed to practice the dedicated art of vigilance. Whether to fasting or prayer, to study or mindfulness, we are called by the season to steadfast devotion: called to live the story of Jesus’ last days differently than the disciples once did.
We preachers often tease the disciples, don’t we? They didn’t understand, even though they were living it. They forgot what they had promised, and asked childish questions, and argued about greatness. Mostly, they keep forgetting who indeed this Jesus is with whom they are palling around, although for us the truth is written into every page. They fell away, as it was written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” Lent is the time the church suggests, to all of us who thought we might do better: “Try.”
So in church we will sing our Lenten hymns, and talk about the practice of humbleness and fidelity… but the true task will be carrying that spirit into your worlds. There will be great temptation to forget, as you leave church, what Lent is about. Fight it. There will be an urge to go gaily about your business, for life is short enough. But remember: we wish to sit beside Jesus, to wait for him in his hour of need, as he will for us, in our own.
To help us in this task, this Lent I will be creating some short Midweek Email Devotionals. Sign up with your email in church to let us know you would like to receive them directly. My prayer is that they will come to you in this season as a reminder of the longitudinal promise we make to abide with God, as God does with us. Let us not be sheep, who are scattered; let us remain with him,
Both now and always.