I have had a few conversations about church lately. I actually have many conversations about church often but a few hard ones lately….ones that deal with why we do church and why we get it so weird and wrong sometimes. Conversations about how so much of our church body’s history has been one so marked by fear and power and not love and humility. Conversations that struggle with how to be a body of people together in the hard situations that church, that community, sometimes gives rise to.
And now it is Lent. A time for opening our eyes, seeing the dust and distraction and acknowledging our very real inability to get it right. It has traditionally been a time for self-denial and reflection hence the “giving up” that is talked about. But its not deprivation for deprivation’s sake. It is for the purposes of seeing clearly and knowing, as we know how to breathe, that love that shaped the world and our lives. It is a time of humility, of realness. Not denying our brokenness, not avoiding our fault-lines, not denying the shadow that definitely resides within us, but looking at it and ultimately holding it out before God. It is turning towards a road of transformation and transformative community. It is creating a space within ourselves for the presence of the self-emptying and infinitely hospitable Christ. This is Lent. Christians traditionally have fasted something. Maybe to help us remember ? To help us know humility? To let go of our own control before we receive Easter?
For me, this year, I want to fast in such a way that my eyes will be opened. Opened to the place where God is. And this is not because I am a super special and holy person that I ask this. Cause that I am not. It is precisely because I am looking around at so much violence and hurt and despair. And I see it in my own heart. And So I also am driven to look for the good, to look for where love is actually connecting us, to look for where God is alive and growing in our world He loves so much. To know God in here, in my own heart and out there, in the world we all share. And then to “DO” from that space.
For Lent I will give up checking facebook like an addict, furtively looking around to see if my kids are watching. I will give up checking news sites and obsessing over the bad news until I am no longer a functioning adult. These are probably just things I should just generally work into my life……
But mostly, this Lent, I will ask God for eyes to see Him. And I will pray. Specifically, I want to, and am driven to, pray for Church. For my church. And for THE church; for this community and collection of strange and obnoxious and beautiful and kind humans. I want to pray every day for how we can do this BEING together. And pray for God to be with us. Because I do not know what else to pray. Because I sense that it is in this that I will see where God is. In the very messy interactions is where that redemption is to be. I pray for eyes to see you God. I am going to write a prayer out every day. I might look for prayers, I might write my own. If you are praying for your community too, feel free to share it with me and I’ll include that too. I have my own church community in mind, but also my family community and school community and all the other communities that I, and we, find ourselves within.
Pope Francis asked this year for people to not just give up something, like sugar or coffee, that does not actually effect their soul and more importantly, does nothing to help other people. This year he asked for people to give up indifference for Lent. How crazy is that? A Christian leader calling us to look and see each other in all the beauty that God has made each of us and act accordingly. I pray for my eyes to be opened to my brothers and sisters and to the active work of love and life and God in those eyes. I need hope and I need peace and I feel like that’s where it might be found.
And for today, the first day in Lent, Ash Wednesday, where we remember that we are in fact dust, I will pray this:
Father, draw us together, to you. Speak to each person in this, my community, in the way that you know exactly how to speak to them, in that deep place of rest and remembrance. With your specific word of love to each of us, draw us towards you, together. Open all of our eyes to see where you are.