When I left my childhood faith and embraced the United Methodist tradition, one of the many practices that I never observed until converting was Lent. I just thought the season was reserved for Catholics, and I didn’t give it a further thought. I also assumed that Lent was just about giving up things. Little did I realize that the observance of a “Holy Lent” would become a very important part of my faith practice.
I first approached my first Lenten season with fear and trepidation. I thought to myself, “This is a dreary and depressing season. Who in the world wants to observe this time of the year?” Everything seemed to suggest mourning and sadness. I was uncomfortable and did not like the tone of the church.
As I grew in my faith, I found that Lent offered me a way to rediscover the very basics of my belief in God. I learned the importance of remembering my mortality and searching the very depths of my soul for the things that brought me closer to death. I kept asking myself, “What separates me from my creator?”
Over time, my practice grew to include things that I could add to my day to remind me of God’s love and kindness. Last year I added a commitment to writing a blog each day, this year I will pray the daily prayers of the Office of the Divine Hours. Whatever I chose, I hope to increase my awareness of the presence of the Holy One, and to once again offer myself to His service. I pray that I may grow in the love and knowledge of Christ, and develop something far beyond a faith practice. I hope to begin a life commitment.
Praise be to God, who constantly reminds us of His love for us.
I was walking through a grocery store the other day and happened upon a sign that read “Easter items, half off!” Inside the sales bins there were chocolate bunnies and various and assorted candies. Everything was marked “for sale.” Naturally the theologian in me almost exploded. I thought about the many times that I raced towards Easter having endured the obstacle course known as Lent. It was as if Easter was the official day of celebration and the race was over. The victory having gone to the winner and everything else was a letdown.
For those of us who worship in liturgical churches, last week only marked the beginning of the Easter season. Our themes focus on the triumph of the Spirit and how humanity has received the most incredible gift that could ever be given. We celebrate God and the incredible workings of the Divine in humanity. Christ has risen indeed.
The early church fathers looked forward to each Sunday as being a mini-Easter. They celebrated the victory of the risen Christ and emphasized the wonder of the resurrection and the power of God every week. Their praises to God were for a lifetime and not limited to one day or even one season. Their lives and understanding of the mystery of God’s gift of love empowers us to keep the faith by telling the story of our God throughout the year. We, like the early church fathers who have gone before us, share our journey that is forever intertwined with the story of how Divine love has changed us.
Easter is not just a day filled with Easter Bunnies and great chocolate. There is no such thing as Easter being “half off.” Our full time joy in God’s wonderful and radical love for us is about a total commitment and not simply backing off after a national holiday. Our wishes for a happy Easter are not limited to one day, but are a living testimony to the glory of God! It is with great joy and gratitude that I wish you a very “Happy Easter!”