Stuff gets in the way. Stuff gets in the way of life happening the way it is supposed to. We get distracted, we lose focus, and before we know it, our lives have veered from where we thought they were supposed to go.
Maybe that’s where Lent comes in. As a season, it asks us to let go of some of those distractions. To let go of those things that keep us from living life as we were meant to live it. When people pick a trivial thing, even a happy thing, to give up for Lent, I think maybe it misses the mark.
I like the notion of Lent as a time for renewal and refocusing. Last week at Christ Church Easton, the Gospel reading was Mark’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Interim pastor Jerrett Hansen, reflecting on this mountaintop experience, asked, “How are we connected to the story?”
He posited we need to live into the mystery of the story, the mystery of God and Christ, rather than try to intellectually analyze it.
“Jesus and God are to be experienced. We need to be open to these experiences… Experiencing God is essential to our journey.”
I think that is what life’s distractions prevent us from doing. They get in the way of our wonder; they get in the way of loving more fully; they get in the way of opening ourselves to possibilities and to each other. Distractions keep us from knowing ourselves more fully and from knowing God more fully.
Maybe instead of giving something up just to give something up, for Lent we can think about getting ourselves into spiritual shape. Building better habits to peel back the distractions. Jerrett introduced a notion that a friend of his, Michael Foss, spelled out as marks of discipleship:
1. Pray daily
2. Worship weekly
3. Read the Bible daily
4. Build spiritual friendships
5. Serve in the community
6. Be generous in all things
We’ll be spending time over the next weeks working through what some of those look like and what they mean. If you are up for it, maybe think of Lent as time to take on a discipline, or a devotional habit, to help get into shape a bit.
We all need help in our lives in some form or fashion. We can all be better people, for ourselves, our family, our friends, our community, our world.
I love Mother Teresa’s notion that through prayer God guides us to do the things that need to be done in the world, that “prayer changes us and we change things.”
God invites us to come as we are, just as we are. But He also knows we are capable of being so much more. We can be better. We can do better. Maybe we can start now.
I’ll leave with a final though from Jerrett’s sermon this past Saturrday:
“God loves you the way you are, but He knows how much more you can be.”