One of the oddities of the season of Lent is numbering the days. Most people know that Lent is 40 days. However, for those who consult a calendar, they will quickly discover that Lent includes 6 Sundays and the part of the week that includes Ash Wednesday. You don’t have to be a math major to know that 6 weeks plus 4 additional days cannot add up to 40.
Of course, we know that Sundays are not included in the 40 days of the Lenten fast because they are considered feast days. This is because every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection. While I have known this to be true, this distinction strikes a chord in me this year and brings with it a gift to my spirit. It is good to be reminded that the hope and joy of Easter permeates the entirety of our faith, practice and life. Woven into the season of fasting, penitence and self-denial, are the threads of joy and hope spun from the empty tomb.
Little Easters in the midst of Lent. Hope and joy in the midst of life. That sounds like good news to me. To be honest, it feels like Lent has been 12 months long. After all, it was during Lent last year that our lives were utterly disrupted. All the Easter plans for in-person gathered worship were put on hold. Since then, it seems that we have lived daily with fasting by denying our impulses to be physically present with persons who are loved, facing troubles or just plain lonely. We have been in long season of reckoning and penitence as we have seen the effects of racism which has led many to journey into their own prejudices and practices.
It has been a long, hard road. And yet, our lives have not be devoid of grace. Even while people have not been able to gather in the church building, the church (i.e., the people) have found ways to impact the community through beginning or enhancing ministries that impact its neighbors. We haven’t been physically present, but we have found that calls and video conferencing can still bring us together. It’s been a season of testing and trials, and yet God has met our needs.
God’s resurrecting and redeeming power certainly has been present in our lives in general. So also is God’s grace present in our seasonal spiritual practices. As we seek to break old habits that separate us from God to create new practices that open us to God’s grace, we know that God is at work in us, helping us create wholeness in life. As we fast from the things of this world to be more attentive to our spiritual needs, God meets us in profound ways. The success of our devotional practices is not solely up to us doing them well, but the God who infuses all our attempts with the Spirit’s power.
During this season of Lent, I pray that there will be little Easters for you … not just on the weekly calendar, but in your experience. May God’s goodness rest upon your and may God’s grace enable you to see it, experience it and claim it.
If you would like to view past editions of Moments with Mike, follow this link: https://corridordistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/