Today we remember that we die. Following what may for some have been a night of excess, Ash Wednesday dawns in Christendom a day of stark contrast to the Mardi Gras heights of Fat Tuesday. We gather in groups, in darkened sanctuaries near dawn or dusk, quietly marking the sign of our death and our life on our foreheads and beginning our forty-day journey toward Easter.
Yesterday Google Reader delivered to me a refreshing gift through Julie Clawson’s reflection on Lent. I found the following paragraphs particularly meaningful.
On one hand it’s understandable that we miss the point of Lent. In our religious traditions rituals and legalism are far easier to promote, understand, and implement than spirituality and faith. We can grasp rules. It is far easier to tell kids to obey rules than to explain to them why they should desire to act rightly. They then end up following the rules simply because the rules exist. When it comes to Lent we often do the same – denying ourselves something for the sake of denial. We give up chocolate or Facebook thinking that act of denial is the purpose of Lent. And we end up missing the point.
But Lent isn’t about denial, it is about transformation. It is the season in which we prepare to encounter Christ’s sacrifice by endeavoring to become more Christ like ourselves. Transformation is about letting ourselves be filled with God’s presence so that we can be shaped by God’s grace. Our acts of kenosis – denying ourselves in order to empty ourselves enough to allow God to fill us – are means to an end. They are disciplines that prepare us to be transformed. We deny ourselves so that we can be reborn as new creations – to live more fully as the Kingdom citizens God desires us to be.
What does it mean for us, during this season, to explore what it could mean for us to be transformed? To add or subtract a practice from our routine that could help us know more of what it means to live as Christians? As a community, Sinners and Saints is embarking on a time of learning what it means for us to live our faith. Join us this Sunday for Sunday Dinner as we get a count on how many of us can attend the upcoming volunteer training for University Street Ministries. It’s Thursday March 5, 5-6:30 pm. Lemme know if you think that far ahead and would like to join us.