Archive for the ‘8th Sunday’ Category

Do We Need Lent? 2-27-2022

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Someone asked me in the grocery store, do we really need Lent?
A good question.
There was a time, of course, when all Christians thought they
didn’t need Lent. After all, they had been baptized; they were filled with
the Holy Spirit and lived life quite differently from the pagans. The first
real Lenten people were not Christians, but those preparing to become
Christians. But all of that changed when the old-timers in the Christian
community noticed something remarkable at the Easter baptism. They
were struck by the joy and the radiant faces of those just baptized. They
realized that they had become too ho-hum in their faith and decided to
do something about it. And so, the next year, some Christians began to
join the catechumens in their preparation for baptism at Easter. They did
this so that they could feel once again the joy of rebirth at Easter. And
that’s how Lent gradually came to the church, out of need.
The liturgy for the First Sunday of Lent focuses on a need that
Jesus had before he began to save the world. Even though he had just
been baptized and was “full of the Holy Spirit,” he felt a need to go into
the desert. In the desert Jesus realized who he was and what he was
called to do. But in the desert, Jesus learned that God cannot be bought
and that life is more than bread or fleeting moments of magic and glory.
One Ash Wednesday, a few years ago, while I was wondering how
to face another Lent, I received a phone call from a former player I
coached. He was now a struggling graduate student. The young man was
crying out for help. When I got to his apartment, I found a tortured
person, filled with self-doubt and booze. Eventually, I got him to go to
his first AA meeting. But even though he was an alcoholic, he told me
that he couldn’t go back to another AA meeting because, “I’m not like
those people.” I’ve never forgotten that line, “I’m not like those people.”
It taught me that the first temptation to avoid is to convince yourself that
somehow you are different, that you don’t share the pain of life, that you
don’t need to go into the desert. The early Christians, even though they were baptized and
convinced of their importance, they learned from the desert experience of
Lent that they too were in need of renewal and of finding out who they
were and who God was calling them to be. Jesus, just baptized by John
and “full of the Holy Spirit,” went into the desert and came out with a
gospel and a firm faith in his Father that he would take to Cavalry.
My young friend was wrong. We are like those people who share a
common struggle and a common pain. We are all driven by some
doubts. We sometimes make choices about the most important events of
our lives without reflection, without faith, without prayer, without God.
We cannot force Lent upon ourselves. Each of us must find a need for it,
a need to go into the desert and face both our gifts and our limits, a need
to face ourselves, our demons, our God. For those who ask the question,
do we need Lent? Trust me – we do! Let’s go into the desert together
and see what we find.

Get Ready! Here Comes Lent! 3-3-2019

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

Let’s Be Nosey and Eavesdrop on a Conversation….
Emily looked at the calendar and sighed “Oh, no!” she moaned. It’s that time of year again. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th.
“Lent,” I declared optimistically, “is a marvelous opportunity, a wonderful gift, a gracious invitation and God’s blessing of good news.”
“Bah!” Emily responded like an unrepentant Scrooge! And in rapid order, she ticked off her objections to Lent.
“Too restricting! A down-time! Old hat! Sad, dark, depressing…”
“Ooohh,” I said to myself. “Here’s a clear case of gloom and doom rather than an outlook of positive possibilities. I had better call the Spiritual Medics at 911…
Rather than a forbidding fence [holding one back] the 911 spiritual medics said, “Lent is an open door for personal growth.
+It is not a depressing down-time, but God’s gracious invitation to use one’s time for things that really count.
+This Lent is not a “been there, done that” but a clean slate for a new start.
+Not a sad, dark, or bothersome season, but one to move oneself forward for a fuller friendship with God, with self, and with others.
+Lent is a gift to realize who we are and where we are in God’s sight. It is a chance to change; it is a time to recharge our spiritual energies. It is an opportunity for new life.
+Lent is a call to make use of the time before us—it’s not so much something we’ve “got to do” as what we “get to do.”

For Lent to come alive—this year—we need to be specific in our intentions and actions. We cannot vaguely say, “this lent will be different” or “I’m going to be a better Christian. Such intentions sound good, but often they tend to evaporate like a puddle of water beneath a hot sun.
To help us with this, I have a challenge for you—the challenge is to remember this number: 144. In a 24-hour period there are 144 ten-minute slots of time.
For Lent this year, take TWO 10-minute slots of time per day and devote these two ten-minute slots to the things of God.
Let me toss out a few practical suggestions:
Begin each day with a prayerful and thoughtful sign of the cross.
Take time each day to be quiet in God’s presence.
Read a paragraph from scripture. Sit with it—break it open in our daily life.
Get rid of put downs, especially in our family.
Shed false images of yourself. Be honest!
Fast from prejudices, resentment, destructive gossip, unhealthy addictions.
Give up possessiveness of things or of people.
Stop being imprisoned by memories of past injuries.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Be yourself!
Communicate with a friend.
Remember a grace received—give thanks.
Laugh for 10 minutes a day: especially at yourself!
Begin fresh each day.
Appreciate your God-given gifts.
Use your gifts to help someone each day of Lent.
Be a caring and forgiving presence in your family.
Practice loving concern for poor people.
Share God’s love by random acts of kindness.
Care for the earth—recycle!
Turn off the TV! Talk more. (By the age of 50, most Americans have watched over 9 years of TV!)
There are so many more concrete and practical ways to be about the things of God this Lent.
It is time to recharge our spiritual energies.
To have an opportunity for new life—a fuller friendship with God.

A commitment to TWO 10-minute slots a day can change our lives!