Steven Colbert appeared on Wednesday night, February 22, with a cross-shaped smudge on his forehead. Yes, he claimed having received the mark of ashes on his head because he was a Catholic, and this is what you did at the beginning of the Lenten season. He said you also usually gave something up for Lent to deprive yourself of some of the pleasures you generally take for granted, to remember you are a sinner and to walk with Jesus during this season. He was going to pass on the customary giving up of chocolate, he said. He thought maybe he would give up being a Catholic just for those 6 weeks, to try on some other ideas. It was good for a laugh. And I was impressed that in the middle of his ironic and satiric take on politics and the foibles of politicians and their commentators, he was able to witness to his grounded spiritual life.
I’d like to suggest a slightly different Lenten discipline. How about adding something to your life for Lent? During the season of Epiphany, we have been listening to the Biblical stories of Jesus’ ministry and how it announced the presence of God with God’s people. We’ve looked into our own time and our own lives as well, seeking the presence of Jesus in us and with us in our own days. Jesus is never really gone as long as Jesus’ people continue his work of changing the world we live in into the Kingdom of God.
What would you add to your regular routine to be part of the change of this world into God’s Kingdom? Would you add some random act of kindness every day? Would you or could you visit someone who’s stuck at home or help them to get out more regularly? What needs your help, your creativity and skill? Would you spend some extra time reflecting on your life and keeping daily log of your gratitude? Would you commit to a special time of prayer or special study for these six weeks? The possibilities are almost endless, but just picking one and trying to be faithful to it is enough. I promise you that you will find your life enriched and changed by even the smallest effort to do something in the name of Jesus for the next six weeks. You will see the face of Jesus when you step into the discipline of being Jesus.
To help you with your commitment, we will offer a station at the back of the church for you to choose a discipline and track it. There will be a stand with ribbons on it, like branches of a tree. On the small table in front of the ‘tree’ will be paper leaves for you to write down what you do each week and pin the leaf on a ribbon branch. It will be your record of what you did and how it felt to walk with Jesus in something new for the world. There will be opportunities to share what happened to you in the process of adding something new and loving to your life in the name of Jesus. But you don’t have to save up your stories and wait. Come and tell me. I love to hear how being Jesus has changed people’s lives. It’s how I got into the pastoring business in the first place.
I will be joining you in the next forty days by adding something new to my life. Little by little we can make the world look more like God intended when we dare to follow in the footsteps of the One who changed the world for us forever.
In God’s unfailing love.