Ash Wednesday 2014 is a bit over a week away. This past week, I spent a fair amount of time amalgamating, into one document, all of the various lenten activities that will take place this year at Trinity Church. It’s the usual round of things — additional opportunities for folks to pray and study and serve. I’m trying one new thing this year in the form of leading a Facebook Book Discussion Group. I’m resurrecting (no pun intended) my “Lenten Audio Diary” of two years ago, with broadcasts beginning on Ash Wednesday. There are sermons for me to preach and Adult forum lessons for me to teach as well. In addition to all of this, Trinity’s two resident spiritual directors will be leading a five part class designed to introduce participants to various modalities of prayer. We will see the return of lenten soup dinners after a hiatus of a year or so. I’m looking forward to it all. Lent is arriving right on time for me this year.
Over the past few weeks I’ve found it increasingly difficult to sit still or focus or read much of anything beyond an occasional long form article on this or that blog site. I have to confess that I’m pretty weary. Weary of war. Weary of gun violence. Weary of racism. Weary of the homophobia. Weary of partisan politics (from both sides of the political aisle). Weary of the lack of will in our society to care for those on the margins. Weary of the arguing. Weary of the fear-mongering. Weary of the judgmental attitude that seems to pervade many so-called Christians (me included). Weary of church fights — of both the denominational and congregational sorts. Weary of our seeming inability to simply be kind to each other in the midst of disagreeing with each other. Weary of being weary.
A favorite preacher of mine in an Ash Wednesday sermon back in 2000 said that Lent is “spring cleaning for the soul.” She said it’s the time of the liturgical year when we pull back all of the furniture of our lives and clean out the crud that’s been accumulating for far too long. Crud that we’ve gotten very good at hiding, but we can’t manage to hide from ourselves. This spiritual house cleaning, she said, begins with some changes in behavior and some changes in attitude — in theological terms, this is called “repentance.”
My plan for Lent 2014 is to repent of my weariness and to rediscover the hope that “does not disappoint.” (Romans 5:5). I’ll keep you posted on how the repentance is going. Winter is far from over in Wisconsin, but my soul is past ready for the spring cleaning of God’s Spirit.