Forgiveness Sunday…the first Sunday of Great Lent…and an evening spent seeking the forgiveness of my brothers and sisters, many of whose names I do not even know. What a great way to start.
As Father David spoke today about the purpose of Great Lent, about how it moves along in The Way, I thought about how (sometimes in Western) Christians tends to think of Lent in terms of what is missing…What are you giving up? How big is the inconvenience going to be? I’m giving up chocolate for Lent. I’m going to try not to swear as much.
These can be good things. Denial of self always is.
But, as Father David said, Great Lent is about our own personal earnestness in joining our lives to Christ. Christianity, once called The Way, is about LIFE, not as he put it, a box of rules and ideas we hang onto to draw from as needed. It is, (a more apt description I’ve not heard in awhile), as a paper towel placed over a small puddle of water. The water will spread throughout every fiber of that paper towel, until the whole thing is soaked and can hold no more. My life, my heart, my workplace attitude, my demeanor with others, these things should be like that paper towel, soaked through with the love of God.
So if Lent is for me about what is missing (whole food groups), it should be about what is gained. Empty spaces filled with God. I have plenty of spaces in my heart that ought to be empty. Get me angry enough about something stupid and most of them will reveal themselves right quick. Great Lent should give me the time, the motivation and the focus to look on those spaces, filled with crap that must be surrendered to God and open to God. This is my prayer. This is my goal. Lord, have mercy.
For those who read who know me personally or professionally or whatever, please forgive me any offense I have committed against you (and I’m sure they are many) in word or deed, intentionally or in ignorance. May you, if you believe Christ is the Son of the Living God who died and rose for our sins, have a blessed Lenten season.