Lenten Reflection: Musings on Lent

March 28, 2017 Comments Off on Lenten Reflection: Musings on Lent

I was brought up as a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) and became an Episcopalian in college.   The season of Lent was therefore not something that was ingrained in me from childhood.  I hope the reader can forgive any theological mistakes I make in this note.

It appears to me that there are traditionally two ways to approach Lent, penitence and atonement.    Penitence is feeling sorry for what one has done.  Atonement is taking actions to repair for what one has done.  Penitence as manifested in action is usually expressed as giving up something:  ice cream!  Atonement is usually expressed in action as doing something more, attending more services, doing more charity work, etc.

I find I’m not very good at or interested in penitence.  As it is, I question my actions too much already!  And in my Quaker background I saw a lot of people who were so involved in a “simple” life, that they appeared to be the most “prideful” folks I knew.  Giving up so they were purer than others.   I just am not constitutionally fit to be penitential.

I’m a better fit for acts of atonement.  I am now carrying around boxes of raisins (when I remember) to give when asked for a handout.  If I don’t have a box I will give a dollar.  In short, I’m trying to recognize the humanity in others.   I am also trying to live more in the moment.  I have a lot of changes in my life and my natural instinct is to worry about the future.  I think we can look at the temptations of Jesus as a way the Devil offered Jesus control: over death and over others.  I am trying through prayer amongst other things to give up that need for control.  I can’t control the future.  I can try in this moment to do the best I can.

I asked Doug Blanchard to paint three paintings for me to try and capture this.  It is of a quote from Micah:

What does the Lord God require of you but to do Justice, to love Mercy and to walk humbly with your God?”

Maybe that means Lent is every day of the year.

– Bruce Goerlich

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