Tuesday, February 5, 2008

So what is this whole "Lent" business?

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone! (Hope this last day of revelry, however you celebrate, is fun for you...)

A new Christian at Asbury recently asked me a simple but compelling question--"So what is this whole 'Lent' business y'all are talking about?" Being in North Louisiana, it doesn't seem like Lent takes such a prominent place in the life of the church...so we contort our faces and get confused or scared sometimes when the word comes... And that's okay...coming from the uber-Catholic Southern Kingdom of the state, there are parts I'd take and others I'd certainly leave behind. But I figured for those of us that are new to Christianity or re-newing our Christianity (hopefully that's all of us...everyday) it would be important thing to mention here on our blog. Someone has called it a time for the greening of the soul. I love that image: a fresh shoot coming from a place that's been crumbling for a long time. A hard heart made soft again. An icy spot melting.

Some Christians like to use Lent to rehearse the old script that human beings are pitiful, desperate worms, and that there's nothing good in us, nothing worth using. We don't believe that at Holy Covenant. Methodists have emphasized the deepest truth that humanity is created in the image of God, and understand the renewal of that image in our lives as the goal of faith...that's what salvation is: the renewal of the image of God in us.

Some say, Oh, but that's a new, modern take on Lent. Well, no. Even from the time of the early church Lent was a season of preparation in solidarity with those who were coming into the Church--being baptized. Some say it was a "fast" to help the whole church prepare or those about to die and be raised in [Christ] is how it all begins. (So erase your visions of sackcloth and ashes and abstaining from meat being mandatory right here). It was a time less of negative penitence than of positive preparation for the whole Church to relive and renew its own conversion to Christ.

So the journey begins again. As we move towards Easter, join us for worship, House Church, and Sunday School that blends eclectic music, diverse faith and challenging questions-a place of hope where God can shake us up by reminding us who we are and send us out to re-create and re-arrange the world.

...oh, and peace to you.