Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
As I write this I have just gotten home from our Ash Wednesday Service, our first service in Lent. During this Lent may we not fall victim to becoming what the world is calling us to be but what God is calling us to be. In the not so recent past going into Lent required that we "give something up" so that we might know the feeling, experience the pain and discomfort that our Lord experienced in the desert when faced with temptation. We have told ourselves that by giving up something we are better able to feel that we have done our Christian duty by suffering the lack of something that we hold dear. The fact is that I often recalled people saying that they were giving something up that they really didn't even care for. I mean what kind of sacrifice or hardship or temptation is that?
You might recall a film a few years ago titled "Chocolat." The film relates the story of a small French town during Lent. Everyone is trying hard to avoid rich foods but what should open at the same time? A new and enticing chocolate shop. It is agony to walk past the shop with its velvety chocolate smells. You can't help but think that the townsfolk had missed the point - especially when one of the most self-righteous characters breaks into the shop and gorges on the chocolates inside.
Lent is not about that kind of self-denial. There is very little value in simply giving up stuff! It's not about giving up stuff, it's about GIVING stuff. Namely, the giving of your life to Christ. And how do we do that? By prayer, by time with our Lord in those precious times of silence that we make for ourselves because those times are so rich and important. It's about giving our time, talent, and treasure to our Church family and to our community. It's about taking care of the poor, destitute, marginalized, and prisoner to name just a few. Our Lord calls us to simply do what he did, to give it all away to those who have less than us with the assurance that God's love and Jesus' presence in our lives is all that we need.
Let us not become like those who hang a wooden cross on their wall and then settle into their comfortable routines forgetting that we are called to love our neighbor deeply, no matter whether that neighbor is rich or poor, black or white, churched or non-churched. We are not called to blend in with those around us but to be extreme in our faith. By doing so we will be holy people instead of just nice and God will not moan at us but will rejoice that we have heard, and we have seen, and we have embarked on our annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem with loving and faithful hearts.
May this Lent find you stretching yourselves and becoming all that God is calling you to be.
See ya Sunday!
Blessings & Peace
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