Lent seems like a long way away, but as a pastor you write your February ponderings in January.
I have never been very good with making New Year’s Resolutions, even before I became a pastor. There was something about making a promise to myself to change what was wrong with me … lose weight, eat well, exercise more … that just wouldn’t stick. I would be lucky if I made it through the first week. I could make the resolution and before the day is done I could break it. This places me in good company, for one of the pieces of chatter during the Rose parade was how long will you keep your New Year’s resolution and the answer was that most people had already broken it. It is a
after all and how can you eat better when you have snacks for the game and a
meal with family occurring. So lately I
don’t even bother making a resolution. I
know myself and know that when it is cold I am not going to go for a long walk,
especially if there is snow or ice on the ground.
But something changes for me when Lent arrives. This time seems the right time for making promises, for making changes. During Lent I have found I can keep my promise, even when it involves no chocolate or fancy coffees for forty days. Part of the reason is because the promise I am making are to God and not me. When I know that this is about deepening my connection with God I am more accountable and more able to start again when I fail. During Lent I remind myself, that when I have the urge for chocolate or coffee I am to stop and pray. To stop and be still and remember that during this time, this Holy Time my hunger or thirst is a reminder that Jesus will never again eat or drink “until that day when I (Jesus) drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”(Mark 14:25) My thirst and hunger stops me and says be open, that one day in your kingdom we will feast again together. And then when I take the money from that craving and put it aside in my prayer box to present back to God, I am making tangible my offering. I am setting aside this money to do the necessary work to build the kingdom, one piece at a time.
So what promise will you make to God this Lent? What resolution will you make? Will you give up meat on Fridays and set the money aside to help the hungry? Will you give up your greatest vice (coffee, chocolate, texting, TV) and use those moments when you have the urge to pray or to serve the kingdom with your labor? May this Lent allow you a chance to draw closer to God who is already reaching for you…