As I ponder today as Ash Wednesday, I’m wondering how I will observe this Lenten Season. It may be easier this year than most to give up things for Lent. In these economic times it is an easy choice to give up tangible things, but what about the intangible attitudes and wrong thinking? As a District Superintendent it is easy to get out of the cyclic nature of the church year and yield to the Conference Year: Charge Conferences, Conference Meetings, Appointment-making, etc. I need today as a reminder to stay in touch with the Church Year and that God’s grace and spiritual nourishment are the only food for my soul. All the Conference stuff is secondary to my being in God’s will as an individual child of God. I need Lent!
Lenten season is a time set aside forty days before Easter, not counting Sundays, when we take an introspective look at our lives. The forty days are reminiscent of Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. The word “Lent” comes from an older root word, “lencten.” Our word “lengthen” has this as its source. Just as the days are lengthening with the approaching spring, we should also lengthen the time spent on spiritual disciplines like worship, Sunday School, prayer, Bible Study, and service to others. We should do everything possible to keep our minds out of trouble and on God.
Someone asked quite pointedly, “Why is it that opportunity knocks only once, yet temptation bangs on the door constantly?” Have you ever noticed that the whisper of temptation can be heard farther than the loudest call to morality? Have you ever noticed that when we decide to do something wrong the means are so readily available? It is also a lot easier to point out the sins of others than our own.
An older priest and a novitiate were walking through the meadow when they came to a swollen creek. Beside the creek was a beautiful young maiden. The older priest offered to carry her on his back across the creek. The younger novice looked on with jealousy and desire. Miles later, long after they had left the maiden behind, the younger priest could not contain himself any longer. He asked the older priest why he had helped the young maiden. Didn’t he understand that what he had done looked improper at the very least? Hadn’t the older priest warned the younger man not to put himself in such situations? The older priest replied, “I left the maiden behind at the river bank, why are you carrying her now?”
What am I carrying that I don’t need to. Lent reminds me that Jesus is my All in All. Amen.