Did a lousy Lent lift your Easter?
When Fred Borsch was Bishop of Los Angeles, he liked to wish folks “a lousy Lent.” He said it with a wink, of course, but he made a good point. The “holy Lent” spelled out in the Ash Wednesday liturgy invites us into potentially, even inevitably lousy moments: “self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial…reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
One of the Lenten prefaces celebrates the lift that can come out of a lousy season:
You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast; that, fervent in prayer in and works of mercy, and renewed by your Word and Sacraments, they may come to the fullness of grace which you have prepared for those who love you.
The prevailing opinion here at Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls is that we had a memorably joyful Easter, and that after several stagnant years the Holy Spirit is again lifting our parish into growth and impact for the heavenly kingdom. I am noticing that the most expressively thankful and fired up people are the ones who labored in the lousy work of Lent:
+ The Senior Warden and his wife, both of whom work full time and then some, and their two energetic little kids, who all attended every session of our special Lenten kids’ program on being forgiven and forgiving - and then made it to all of the liturgies of Holy Week;
+ A young couple who are members of an Assemblies of God congregation and visit us regularly for liturgical worship, who attended all five adult Lenten classes on “Confession of Sin” and attended all of the Holy Week liturgies;
+ A group of middle-aged men who undertook a serious discussion of Biblical standards for husbands and fathers, and who found their group growing with young and new dads seeking guidance and encouragement;
+ My wife grappling with health concerns and caring for our autistic son, making it to all of the Holy Week liturgies for the first time in five years.
+ Our music leader, who had to travel out of state for his beloved grandfather’s burial on Maundy Thursday. It was far from a planned Lenten observance - it was Lent with all the stops out. Yet when I spotted him on his Easter morning return to Good Shepherd, he was smiling and sharing his hope in the resurrection with another parishioner.
Those are just some of the examples that leap to mind less than 48 hours after the first “Alleluia” ended our Lenten disciplines. They are all examples of walking through the lousy realities that Jesus Christ humbled himself to share, suffered to redeem and rose to make glorious. They make me sad for a blog buddy who, when I announced our series on Confession back at the start of Lent, lamented, “In our liberal parish, that wouldn’t fly as a Lenten program. Of course, we don’t have Lenten programs anymore.”
So, testimonies, anyone? Did lack of Lent let you down? Or did a lousy Lent lift your Easter?
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