Thursday, March 17, 2011

On a Thursday in Lent

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Embarking on a Lenten Journey – Part One

Is it me, or are these seasons coming at us with ever-increasing speed?

I woke this morning to find myself 72 hours into the forty-day trek of Lent. In the quiet that exists between the alarm clock and the stirring of the Terriers, I thought of how my understanding of this season has evolved over the years. As a child and pre-teen, it was little more than meatless Fridays and some vague notion of giving something up, like chewing gum. It also meant attending strange masses that involved ashes and kissing the crucifix. It wasn’t a total drag, due to the knowledge that there was a big basket of candy at the end of the road, and the hopes that this year, there’d be a “solid” chocolate Easter bunny in the basket.

Early adulthood took me into the dry steppes of American Pentecostalism where sadly, I eschewed Lent as a “romish superstition”. I can look back in retrospect at this life season and understand that it was heavily influenced by theologically illiterate preachers and a toxic diet of Jack Chick, the American Iconoclast. (I could devote volumes to this man and the damage he has wrought in the lives of unsuspecting believers, but I digress.) Though I regret this wasted period, I have to believe that the Almighty was taking it and using it for His purposes.

Early in the last Decade, my attentions were turned back to the thought of Lent. Though still entrenched within the Pentecostal zeitgeist, a seasonal concept was re-emerging. Lent began to take on a contemplative, devotional character, especially during Holy week. I would focus in on the Gospel narratives that took place between the Triumphal Entry and the Crucifixion. Good Friday became a highly focused day as I would look at the clock and mentally replay the events as recorded by the four Evangelists. Again in retrospect, I see a “Divine Guiding” of my understanding of these Forty Days.

So, what of Lent today in March 2011 Deacon? Lent has become a season of “Re’s”. It’s a reminder that I was conceived in sin and born completely fallen and broken. I have nothing good within me in which to bring to the table or to stand before a Holy, Almighty God. If I’m ever to have a hope in this life or the next, I need a Redeemer and Advocate who stands before the Supreme as propitiation. It’s a time of Refocusing, where one must consider who they are in Christ and His kingdom. Its forty days to ponder a calling and vocation. Finally, I’ve understood the season as a time of renewal and revival. These forty days are an opportunity to yield oneself to the Almighty, seeking to have a “right spirit renewed within” as the Psalmist says. In this yielding, we have the opportunity to experience true revival within our lives.

So, a Blessed Lent to all in 2011.