by George Miller
March 17, 2015
Faith Without Works is Dead (James 2:17) and The Gospel of Mark
LENT, as described by Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan, in their book, THE LAST WEEK, for us today is a transformative journey in time from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. But for Mark in his gospel, “LENT” was a transformative journey in space of Jesus and his disciples from the upper holy land on his last trip to Jerusalem. So today we also become members of that journey, as we PARTICIPATE symbolically in that same journey to death (change) and resurrection, hopefully without excuses or the dismal initial failure of his first disciples.
I grew up in a very fundamentalist religion and was in church every time the doors were open, as far back as I can remember. There was no mention of a Lenten journey, but I do know that from age 12 (when I was “Saved”), to age 18 when I went away to college, I marched up Stone Mountain each Easter morning to the summit for Sunrise services and sang with vigor:
“He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart,
You ask me how I know he lives,
He Lives within my Heart….
So I went off to college as a VERY good boy, assured that I had a place in Heaven and all was well. However, I did not know who I was and was filled with incredible fear and loneliness. And it wasn’t long before the ravages of addictions and depression began in my life, and continued for the next 36 years. At that point I experienced a total life crisis physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I then gratefully had a spiritual epiphany experience, and came to know that God loves me unconditionally as I am. He wants the very best for me in every respect and will direct my path.
And this faith in that power, that I now realize is GOD (Good Orderly Direction) requires certain steps of action from me. And it is during LENT that I am made even more aware and more willing to follow through on these with gratitude:
The joy of planned Silence (planned seasonal individual Monastery Retreats)
Prayer morning and evening.
Regular solo and group meditation.
Taking good care of my body.
Fasting seasonally and in LENT.
Service work in my recovering community and my community of Faith (Serving at UMM Pancake Breakfast 3/21).
Borg and Crossan’s final observation is that we must think of Lent today as a penitential season because we know that, as those first disciples, we would like to avoid the implications of this voyage with Jesus to Jerusalem. We
would like its Holy Week conclusion to be about the interior rather than the EXTERIOR life, about heaven rather than EARTH, and about the future rather than the PRESENT.
Thank you for our bodies, our minds, and the BREATH that give us life each moment. Help us to keep coming back
to our quiet center to be renewed and strengthened by you. May we feel bathed in your love and light throughout
our days. May we extend loving-kindness to all through our words and actions. Amen.