The Season of Lent leads us into introspection on our relationship with God and neighbor. Scripture tells us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. In that commandment we find the context for our reflection, growth and well being.
During this season questions come to mind.
Where are we now? What are we doing now? How are we feeling about things now? How is our relationship with God? How is our relationship with our family? How is our relationship with our neighbors?
Relationships can become ragged.
That can happen when we are not paying attention to one another, perhaps because we are simply taking the relationship for granted. Maybe we have fallen into the habit of not really seeing or listening or responding to what is before us.
These ragged relationships can take place between us and others, and between us and God. In both cases we probably are not paying attention to what is going on around us. We are not investing time and energy. Ragged relationships, if not caught and attended to, can become broken relationships with all the pain, loss and grief that can ensue.
How about this for a concept for a deeper Lent?
Suppose the problems we are facing with the earth are because we have taken the earth for granted. It has always been there, giving us what we need. Maybe the problems we are facing with the earth are because our relationship with it has been mostly one of taking, without giving thought and care to what was going on before our eyes.
Going deeper in Lent involves looking more closely and carefully at our relationship with God, neighbor and the earth. Both we and the earth, and all that is upon it, come from God. Therefore, the season of Lent calls for some introspection to promote a right relationship and a fullness of being for us and the earth.
A key word in Lent is Repentance.
The Greek word for “repentance” is metanoia. It means literally a “change of mind”, or a “change of direction. The Christian Word Book comments on metanoia by saying,” In contrast with remorse, which is merely being sorry for ones actions, repentance means acknowledging one’s errors and seeking a new orientation and direction. The French word for “thinking” is pense’ and comes close to the idea involved in repentance (re-pense’). It is a re-thinking of one’s situation and a determination to chart a difference course”.
Repentance is not an add-on to our busy life.
Metanoia is not about a little tweak in our lives, it is about a change of orientation. It is a change in our thinking which leads us in a new direction that renews and strengthens our relationship with God, with others and with the earth, which is crying out to us for attention. Metanoia is not something we create. It is something that God does to us and for us. It is an ongoing work of the Spirit by which we become more and more the person that God has called us to be, a person who is alive to God, to the neighbor and to the fullness of Creation.
Where do we start?
We start with silence, even just a little bit of silence at first, letting ourselves be simply present before our Creator and before the Creation. In terms of the earth we look at what God has given to us, not with a passing eye, but with an eye that in time becomes fixated with the beauty and wonder of it all. We allow the awe of Creation to fill us, to lift us and to transform us until we love what we see and long to care for it simply because it is.
We Presbyterians open every meeting with prayer because we believe that we are not alone, that God is with us more than we know, and that all good beginnings start with prayer. So in starting any work we begin with prayer. That is true for us as individuals in our daily lives, and in our collective life as the church.
How do I proceed?
We Presbyterians are also people who like to think and to understand things. That means learning about the topic before us. In the matter of creation care much as been written and continues to be written and so resources abound.
It is also helpful as people of faith that our study be undergirded with a foundation in the scripture. This foundation along with the study of the issue before us will open us up to see ways that we can respond in hope, faith and action for the work of creation care.
A Deeper Lent makes for richer life
A deeper Lent leads us into a deeper appreciation of the working and the calling of the Spirit. We are moved by the Spirit into a deeper awareness of God and of God’s call into faith and action. By hearing and yielding to the Spirit we emerge from being simply an on-going part of the problem to being a little piece of the on-going solution in the work of creation care.
The Journey Beyond Lent
Before Jesus started his ministry he spent forty days in the wilderness gaining clarity of what was God’s will and work for him. So too it is with us. Our journey does not end with Lent, but rather prepares us for the work to which we are called. The journey is one of learning at ever deeper levels what it means to love God, neighbor and the earth which is also our neighbor and with whom we have an interdependent relationship. Indeed all that we do is a journey in learning and living the truth and wisdom that “The Glory of God, is Creation Fully Alive.”