So many folks give something up for Lent – meat, sugar, cursing. At last night's Ash Wednesday service, Jaye, the online host, suggested giving up negative self-talk and self-loathing for Lent. Instead of being annoyed by a body that is too whatever (sick, fat, bumpy, in pain), why not try softening to its realities, or a little gratitude for how it partners with you to move through the world? Another worshiper said they were giving up Facebook for Lent. I know some Greek Orthodox Communities, who traditionally have given up certain foods each week, have also offered a progressive technology fast. Where, each week, you refrain from another source of technology until by Holy Week, you're technology-free. So you might choose to let go of social media, then television, YouTube, Xbox, email, etc. There are some weeks I wouldn't mind giving up Zoom. I remember a colleague's son choosing to "give up" the gaming system on the very last week, so he only had to endure a week without video games.
Lent is an invitation to do things differently. To not resign ourselves to the well-worn patterns we have, but to examine how those habits serve us and our neighbors. It's never too late to turn toward God. To try on a new way of relating to God and your faith, if only for a season. It is not our humanness that we repent of but our tendency to deny the belovedness of our humanity. And how we can use our humanness, like Jesus, to serve the world.
Last night's service featured "Even Here" by Mark Miller. You can hear it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm-U3-3kCSU
I have turned away, I have set my fate.
I have run too far, I repent too late.
Can the hand of God, the voice of love find me even here?
O forgive me Lord, I've denied your grace.
May I die in peace with a song of grace.
The Commission on Religion and Race offers this prayer for the beginning of Lent.
This is a day of repentance, God of mercy and of justice.
And it is a day of remembering our mortality, God of eternity and today.
But what if we realized that those aren't the same thing?
What if, this Ash Wednesday,
we decided not to repent of our humanness,
but to repent of those things that made us less than
what you created us to be and to do?
Call us to repent of those thoughts and deeds
that make us less than human,
less than a part of this creation.
And invite us to celebrate our oneness with the world
in which we live and the whole,
multicolored tapestry that is your human community.
Let us be marked with a reminder that
we are bound up with those we often call "other."
Let us be repentant of that
which demeans ourselves and our neighbor and you.
In the name of the one who wore our flesh, Amen.