“My soul yearns for God, for the living God…”
One of our church leaders told me there is a trend on social media that this year for Lent people are giving up. Not something. Just giving up. I get it.
Usually I try to take on something, and I’m doing that again. I’m reading all of the Gospel of Mark, even though I’ve read it many times. I’m engaging in this conversation that is hard to name: is it Christian Anti-Racism or Anti-Racist Christianity? Maybe both. After all, if you read Mark it is our call. Think about repentance, casting out demons and healing. All for Lent.
If you want to take on something this year and have some time at home, I recommend watching The Black Church on PBS (or online, or on Prime). The second hour of the first episode engages the history and theology of Christian social action, uniting it with music and prayer… it’s worth your time. It’s inspiring for our own journey in faithful social action.
Another way I spend time just now is imagining our future. Of course we have a re-entry team at NHCC, but I wonder what will be different when we do return to a safe sanctuary? What will we do differently, other than continue our broadcasts? How will we be different?
We’ve never been through anything like this before, but we have enough experience to observe several common patterns for our projections. Often the hardest moment in a troubling time is when the end is getting near. Deep in this year-long season of separation—and perhaps just months from being vaccinated and being able to open windows to summer breezes and reunite with many beloved—often this is the hardest time. The pain we’ve suppressed can come forth. The anger at the experience, even the injustice of the experience, can come forth.
When those enslaved in Egypt got out, got past the Red Sea, that’s when they got most frustrated: at the cusp of liberation. The cusp where we find ourselves this Lent.
Our church is the right place for all of the above: reading the Gospel, seeing its application to issues like racism, preparing for the future, sharing the emotions of pain and anger, and still working for liberation. Not just our own, but liberation for our neighbor and even our enemy. Our church is the right place for the cusp of tomorrow: in the proximity of hope.
One of my hopes is that the Holy Spirit will answer some of our questions. That is, what to do and be. What to emphasize and what to let go. My hope is that any of you who read this far will be part of that conversation even with pain, anger, and exhaustion, but always guided by what started out for the Psalmist: a yearning for the living God. A hope that we have something worth taking on each Lent.
This is why we are a church in Jesus’ name. This is why we don’t give up, but press on.
Peace to you,