Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Yep, one of the "green altar" church seasons is coming to an end and one of the "purple altar" seasons is coming. (Yeah, I know Advent in modern times has gone to blue but I still think of Advent as a "purple altar" season). I always look forward to Lent, not just because of the purple up in the front of the church, but because I always see it as a "housecleaning" season.

Truthfully, I've never quite figured out the whole penitential somberness that some people feel over Lent. Maybe it's a holdover from our Jewish roots and Yom Kippur. Perhaps it has to do with whether an individual sees the season as leading up to the ultimate death of Jesus on the cross, or whether one sees the season as culminating in the resurrection of the Christ. Is Lent a season of "giving up" or "adding?"

My best friends growing up were a big Roman Catholic family. I remember their mom and dad always going around the supper table asking each child, "What are you giving up for Lent?" Since I was kind of an extended family member, it was expected that I would give something up too, but I would be on my own in terms of enforcement of my choice. What I remember most is that none of the kids ever gave up anything particularly significant..."I gave up bubble gum." "I'm going to give up drinking Cokes." Stuff like that. Their dad would remind them that it was to help understand the pain Christ went through during the Crucifixion. I remember thinking that anything I could possibly give up was pretty chintzy and intuitively not even close to how I envisioned death by crucifixion...which always made me think, "What's the point, really, of giving up these things for Lent? It's not even close to payback for Christ's pain." I mostly just saw it as a somewhat meaningless ritual.

Then, somewhere in young adulthood, I became disenchanted with the morbidity of Lent and instead saw the joy in it. Forty days of mentally beating your head with a stick over all your wrongdoings was just overkill. Yom Kippur was more my conceptual speed--it only has 10 days of that stuff, culminating in this huge corporate confession. I started to think of Lent more as preparation and spring housecleaning...more of a "what does my inner spiritual self need to be fuller?" look at it all.

Well, with all housecleaning, there's that business of clutter. You can be penitent all you want, but if you don't get rid of the clutter there's no room for new things, and all the "I'm sorrys" don't fix the clutter problem. So I decided to mentally strip my mind from the things that don't matter so much. Then comes the business of getting one's soul more "full" of the good things that Lent represents. This always becomes more of an addition to me...maybe I needed more structure to my prayer life. Maybe I needed to give up by to charity is a great clutter-freeer.

So my advice for the upcoming Lenten season is to get busy "filling the gaps" and "caulking the holes."

Had to catch up from a weekend of errand running, so I didn't get to post this as usual on Sunday afternoon. Sunday's sermon by Wallace was based on the first part of Luke 5, what I always call "An amazing day fishing." Jesus gets Peter and his buddies to take the fishing boats out and despite Peter's assertations that they didn't catch doodly squat earlier, they haul in the catch of the day.

I know how Peter must have felt b/c I once caught a 43 lb. flathead catfish on a bank pole and it was pretty exciting. Those days you catch a lot, it's not the bait, it's not you, it's simply an act of grace. Wallace made a good point about how although fundies tend to treat this passage as a reason to go out, "hook" people and drag them in the boat, maybe it's more about just casting out your net, and through grace, hauling in the abundance.

I would add that there is a certain adventure to fishing because you can't see what's under the water, only imagine. There is a lot of anticipation on what you might catch when you feel that line or that net tug. Maybe you're going to throw it back, maybe you're going to keep it. Maybe it is a lunker! But if you don't throw out that line or cast that net I guarantee you won't catch a thing. You can't win if you don't play. It's like the guy who always prays to win the lottery and God finally yells, "Meet me halfway! Buy a ticket!"

So as we go about ordinary life, it becomes important to just keep casting out the net of "who we are" as we seek to be closer to God. No need for fancy expensive bait, just cast your net out. Be ok with the days where you catch nothing. But some days you'll find God's grace leaves you with an abundance.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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