Lent begins next week. In sharp contrast to the Super Bowl celebrations this Sunday, Lent is a season of penitence and fasting. Although that doesn’t sound like much fun, it is an important season for the Body of Christ.
In our Anglican tradition, we are invited to the observance of a holy Lent by self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. I’ve often wondered if this tradition is best served buffet-style. For instance, with my purple Lenten tray in hand, I’ll take a small scoop of self-examination so I can leave room on my plate for what I really like to eat – God’s Word. And, in a small bowl off to the side I’ll toss in some fasting and self-denial which, if I have room, I’ll eat (but probably dispose of with my tray at the end of the meal).
Or, does our tradition mandate to all believers that we must repent, pray, fast, deny-oneself, and read God’s holy Word. I think that if you treat Lent like a buffet, or if you mandate your life around those tenets, you will be in a deeper walk with Jesus by Easter. Regardless of how you choose to treat Lent this year, I’m inviting you to read a book with me and the rest of the congregation, Meeting Jesus on the Margins. It consists of daily meditations on the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells how it will be at the end. God will separate all people into two groups. One group he invites into God’s kingdom because when he was hungry they gave him food; thirsty – they gave him something to drink; homeless – a place to stay; naked – they gave him clothes; sick and in prison – they visited him. The people asked, “When did you we see you hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick or in prison.” The reply, “The truth is, anything you did for any of the least of my brothers and sisters here, you also did it to me.” To the other group… well, things didn’t turn out well for them because when they didn’t take care of the least of these, they didn’t take care of God.
This is a challenging and inspiring chapter in Matthew’s Gospel. At times, I read this story and feel self-congratulatory because I did help someone. But other times I find myself ashamed of the times I didn’t help someone.
Meeting Jesus in the Margins has daily meditations looking at different aspects of chapter 25. Each reflection provides boots-on-the-ground stories of serving and being served by the “least of these.” To read the first week, click here
I am inviting you not to read this book alone, but rather, let’s read it together. Each day know that other folks at Saint John’s (and around the country) are reading what you are and perhaps feeling what you feel when you read it. But, let’s not stop there. On Sunday, after services, let’s get together during fellowship time and talk about what we read the past week and perhaps what God is inspiring us to do.
To order the five dollar book, click here http://www.forwardmovement.org/Products/2381/meeting-jesus-on-the-margins.aspx
Regardless of buffet-style or strict mandate, we are called to do something for Lent. Let’s pray and reflect on God’s holy Word and see where God leads us into the world to serve in Jesus’ name.