The gang at RevGalBlogPals are doing a Mid-Lent Check In:
1. Did you give up, or take on, anything special for Lent this year?
Nope. I don't do that anymore. Only once did I find that helpful and I gave up evening TV and went to bed early and was able to get up early and have some time away from the children to study and pray. Now my kids are gone and I get up at 4 am to skate so going to bed early isn't that big a deal. I recognize these Lenten disciplines are helpful for a lot of people but there is a danger of turning it into some kind of spiritual self-improvement program which I think kind of misses the point. It can become all about what "I'm" going to do. I'm Lutheran enough to realize that any kind of spirituality that is about me and what I'm going to do to be a better Christian/person and get closer to God is not going to end well. So I just live in Lent. I like to emphasize the tradition of Lent that was about catechisis and am reading a little more. I'm very excited about my Lenten mid week sermon series that is very didactic on the Apostle's Creed. I've think the folks appreciate it. At least some have said they have.
2. Have you been able to stay with your original plans, or has life gotten in the way?
Ah see, that's the beauty of just living in Lent. Life doesn't get in the way because life IS the way!
3. Has God had any surprising blessings for you during this Lent?
Well I feel blessed and surprised that I'm not putting people to sleep with my Lenten sermon/lectures on the Apostle's Creed. Seriously it is a blessing to eat supper on Wednesday nights with the folks and that they come to church and received and let me proclaim the Word.
4. What is on your inner and/or outer agenda for the remainder of Lent and Holy Week?
It really doesn't matter what "my" agenda is - inner or outer. It's not about me. Once you really get that, there's the blessing. I mean I make plans and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. I believe deeply in Grace and the work of the Holy Spirit and the best I can do is not get in the way of what the Holy Spirit is trying to so in, with and through me.
5. Where do you most long to see resurrection, in your life and/or in the world, this Easter?
I really feel like I've lived much of my life on the Good Friday side of the Pascal Mystery. But I have also experienced Resurrection. Right now I feel so deeply for those who are still in Good Friday. The walk of faith is the way of the Cross and faith is not assurance that everything is going to work out okay in this life. Sometimes alcoholics never stop drinking. Grandma dies of cancer. The teenage daughter you wait up all night for never comes home. People live their entire lives in grinding poverty and oppression. And yet I have to believe and trust that the "communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting" begins today, on this side of heaven so my prayer is that everyone who is suffering will know the presence of God and "and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.5" (Romans 5:5)
This isn't really a favorite hymn but as I wrote this I thought of the words to "The Church of Christ in Every Age" by F Pratt Green Tune: Wareham
The church of Christ in every age,
beset by change but Spirit-led,
must claim and test its heritage
and keep on rising from the dead.
Across the world, across the street,
the victims of injustice cry
for shelter and for bread to eat,
and never live until they die.
The let the servant church arise,
a caring church that longs to be
a partner in Christ's sacrifice,
and clothed in Christ's humanity.
For he alone, whose blood was shed,
can cure the fever in our blood,
and teach us how to share our bread
and feed the starving multitude.
We have no mission but to serve
in full obedience to our Lord:
to care for all, without reserve,
and spread his liberating word.
And just because - here is the Amazing Mahalia Jackson singing a "Abide With Me" that never fails to touch me and many others: