Beginning with Ash Wednesday, on March 9th, we enter the season of Lent. According to Common Prayer; a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, “Lent is the forty-day season of reflection and preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is a time of repentance, of considering Christ’s suffering and rethinking how we are called to take up our own crosses. Some of us have given up things like chocolate or television during this season as a sort of fasting, and others try to integrate something new into their lives, like visiting folks in prison, sewing clothes, exercising, or praying. It is a good season to rethink how we live and to let some things go, or maybe even to develop some new holy habits”.
Over the last year, nearing two years, we have all heard stories, known people, or been the ones impacted by the recession. We have been challenged to really examine what is important and necessary for our own lives. Unfortunately, these crises also cause many to “circle the wagons” to take care of their own and forget about those on the outside. We learned the concept of circling wagons from old westerns. It looked good for movies and TV, but in reality it wasn’t as successful, mainly because those attacking refused to ride around in a circle and face the fire from those inside. We circle the wagons and create a siege mentality, the only way to survive is to outlast the threat. We cannot open the circle to let anymore in because we might become more exposed.
Jesus taught the disciples to be aware of the most ignored areas of the community. He taught, healed and ate with people that were not the cream of society. They were thought of more as the dregs of society. During Lent, we, like Jesus, need to be more aware of those in our community who were never in a circle of wagons, because their wagons were taken away. We need to help lift those still suffering because they didn’t have the luck, the connections, the depth of resources, the family, the friends, the whatever to see them through to the other side (assuming we are coming out on the other side). We need to be aware that as we deal with budget challenges around the city, county, state and nation, that many human beings, many of God’s children will be part of what is cut, not just numbers.
Lent is a season of preparation that we may better appreciate and receive the justification with God. It is also a season when we must be aware that we are called to be justified with our neighbors as well. Justified means to be lined up with God; to be brought into balance again with our Creator. We also need to be brought back into balance with our brothers and sisters as well because justification is not a solo experience; it is to be communal. Jesus went to the cross not to justify only you or me, but to justify everyone. Use the 40 days of Lent to start reclaiming balance for yourself and for your neighbors.