FAITH FOR TODAY BY DOUG PILSWORTH
Welcome back, all those who were away for the March Break. It’s not hard to know who you are. We, who remained in our wintry wonderland, are the anaemic looking ones who are standing beside you!
It’s always good to get away, even if it is only for a week. We see new places, observe new traditions, eat new foods, and we relax. It’s a good way to renew our batteries. We are always changed by these excursions. We may go to the same location year after year, but we meet new people and have new experiences that change us. Vacations are always a gift for our souls. We come home with a newness within us that is ready to tackle anything that presents itself.
In the Church, we are on a journey. It’s called Lent. We all have some connotations of what Lent is and every year at this time, we hope that Lent is not one of the destinations on the lists we get from our travel agents.
When I was growing up in Toronto, we never experienced the seasons of the Church year. Oh, we observed the high Holy days like Christmas and Easter, but we never knew of the natural ebb and flow that the seasons give our faith journey. We never took part in services like Maundy Thursday or Ash Wednesday or Tennebre. We never knew anything about Advent or Pentecost or Lent. These were events that took place in that Catholic Church down the way. It wasn’t the Protestant way.
Since the Ecumenical movement, now it is difficult to find any Church that does not celebrate the seasons of the Church year. The richness of these times accent our journey of faith.
Unlike many of these services, Lent seems to have gotten a bad rap. Everyone thinks that Lent is a time when we have to give up something that we enjoy. I always wanted to give up school, but that was nipped in the bud by my parents. Lent is a time of solitude, alone with self and with God. It’s a gift from God of time, when we can be alone and ponder and make restitution for the times when we have not done, as Christ bids us.
Yes, Christians sin. As the Scripture says, “we have all fallen short.” Lent is a journey of the soul as we venture into the deserts of our sinfulness and voice what we have never said to anyone. We do this alone, but we are never, truly, alone. When we face ourselves honestly and repent of our sins, God is there to embrace us and to welcome us home.
Christ experienced this after his baptism, when the Spirit ushered him out into the desert for 40 days and nights. When he returned, he ministered to the people.
Lent is a time with God when we, too, explore ourselves and through God’s grace, turn around and with newness of heart and spirit, reach out to minister to our world, again. Without our journey through the land of Lent, we will never know the wonder and newness of Spirit, that is Easter. Join us on the journey and be not afraid, for God is with us, through it all. God bless you all.
Rev. Doug Pilsworth is pastor at St. Paul United Church in Westville and a longtime contributor to Faith for Today.