We’ve just passed the midpoint of this 2012’s Lenten season.
As we stand at this point, I ask myself why do we observe Lent? I mean, what are we really doing. A lot of us say we’re giving up something, going to Lenten services, or like me, doing Lenten Bible studies. Is this for tradition’s sake, to look good; or for personal growth?
Are we giving up (fill in the blank) for Lent just to get some religious “Brownie Points”, so we can walk around on Easter Sunday and boast how “holy” we are? Are we going to Lenten services just to do something to break the monotony of our week (and to be seen)? Do we do our Bible study to look good in front of others with our “knowledge” that we can expound on? What are we doing during these 40 days?
Oh, it’s easy to give up red meat, alcohol, smoking, porn, video gaming, etc for the Lenten season. But, are we willing to give up self-righteousness? How about prejudice in every form? How about apathy? How about greed? What about hatred? How about gossiping? Cowardice? Laziness? How about violent tendencies towards others? How about watching TV and mindless entertainment?
It’s also easy to go to a Lenten season church service and hear some preacher hoop and holler as he (or she) gets the congregation ready for “EARRLLY SUNDAY MORNING!!!” (or Easter). Or to while the time away for some Lenten homily, going because the one giving the message speaks in a pleasing manner. It’s nothing to get that “Jesus fix” I spoke about in my last post, and pass a couple hours away during the week. How about engaging the Divine while at worship? If the message is worthwhile, asking God to meet us in the message and how does it apply to us (if it does). If the message is just entertainment, why not skip the service and spend some time alone with God as I’ve previously written, to go into the darkness…back to The Center, and engage the Divine one-on-one?
For those of us doing Lenten Bible studies (me included), it’s nothing to pull out the Bible, whether the physical or electronic version, and partake in a reading program. I have reminders sent to me daily, and if necessary I can have my device play the Scriptures for my listening when I’m driving. But do we really take the time to ask God how the texts apply to us-especially in our age? Do we just take a “literal” view of the Scriptures to make them “safe” for us, or are we reading the stories as what they are, allegory? Do we understand that-especially the Gospel stories-the texts were written years after the events portrayed; and that the authors used midrash-compiling the Gospels stories with help from the Old Testament scriptures? Do we also examine the Scriptures in light of where and when they were produced?
As we start the second half of the Lenten season, leading up to Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday; let’s ask ourselves why we observe Lent. Is it just something to do out of tradition or to “look good”. Or is it time for self-reflection and engaging God so we can grow into the people He/She desires us to be, not just for Lent, but for the rest of our lives?
Think about it.