This month Lent begins. Lent is a season. Lent is a time for self-examination, confession, spiritual exercise, discipleship training, and refreshing our perspective on what it means to follow Christ today. It is a spiritually challenging time, and it will conclude on Easter as we celebrate Jesus’ victory.
Lent is an opportunity. An opportunity to practice “resetting” ourselves. A season to begin reorienting or retuning our lives to the ways of Christ. It’s a period we can begin a process; not a moment to magically become someone we’re not. Transformation is a process. As we move through this season let’s invite ourselves and encourage one another to be intentional in our discipleship. What might that look like? Well, how about slowing down and listening more for Jesus’ voice in our day. How about not so much “giving up” something but rather taking on a “Lenten practice” like weekly visiting a shut-in person, helping once a week during the six weeks of Lent at Second Harvest, or a soup kitchen, or choosing now “date afternoons” with each of your kids during Lent, or carving out a time through the season for a daily walk.
A compass can begin to lose it’s sense of True North as it’s used, and an instrument - as it’s played - will begin to go out of tune. Our lives are the same. In our day-to-day routines and rhythms we can lose our orientation and we can go “out of tune”. Lent is a time to be reoriented by the grace of God. During this lent allow the Holy Spirit to retune you to the key of God’s unlimited and unconditional love.
One of the traditional Hymns often sung in this season is “Take Time To Be Holy”. Holy literally means “other than” or “set apart”. We are called by God to be “other than” the ways and values of the world. We have been, through the mercy and call of Christ, “set apart” for the work of the Kingdom of God; the Commonwealth of Christ!
These days are full of division, cruelty, violence, war, and much that is not of God. How do we continue to point toward the way of Shalom? How do we continue to stay in tune of the key of God’s Love? How can the words of Jesus, Mahatma Gandi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Arch Bishop Oscar Romero even begin to address the angers and dangers of our lives today? What is the alternative to despair?
The Jews have a word for it: Tikum Olam. It means “to repair the world.” It’s the activity of God’s love in the world. We are invited to participate in this very work as followers of Jesus! This happens in big ways and in small ones. Sometime the repair is obvious, noticeable. Sometimes it is quiet, hidden. But it does not happen unless we give ourselves to the work of making the world more gentle and just. It does not happen unless you and I do something.
The good news of the work of the Holy Spirit is you and I do not work alone. We are woven into the cloth that is the church: the body of Christ. Sidney Haris said that the question, “What can one person do?” must be faced by each of us, and that sometimes it seems one person can do little – but one and one and one and one can do a great deal!” He’s right. One and one and one and one can do a great deal! Attuned together in God’s love, the “orchestra” of disciples can “turn the world upside-down”. With our needles all pointed to the true north of justice for each and all, we can heal and repair the world through the balm of shalom!
John Wesley believed strongly that Christians are to be about the work of Christ in the world. He wrote: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” This Lent, let us live in the “other way” of grace. This Lent, let us be set apart for the work of love and justice. Allow the Holy spirit to reorient your life and retune your spirit.
Be God’s, Pastor Jim