Practice Starts…

Tomorrow begins my favorite season. There is jittery anticipation. Like the first basketball practice or class with an esteemed professor. Will I make the cut? Can I keep up? With the running, the writing, the standards that encourage us to rise above what we thought possible. 

Each Lent holds, for me, a new challenge. An opportunity. What discoveries will unfold this year? I reminisce. The forty plus days that I practiced the Tibetan 5 Rites while whispering:

Hear O Israel! The Lord Our God is one Lord. 
Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart.
Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your soul.
Thou shalt love the Lord our God with all your mind.
Thou shalt love the Lord our God with all your strength.
Thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself.

I grew up on the King James Version. Jesus quoting the Torah commandments in Deut 6:4-5 and Lev 19:18 as the greatest.

I remember the Lent that I gave up coffee. Or the season I was challenged to release a particular flavor of anger. Once, forty mornings translating a Psalm a day from Italian to English. 

Sometimes, I’ve added a discipline. Other years, I let go of a habit for forty days. Each is a reminder, a preparation. Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Anticipating suffering. Preparing disciples:

“The Human One will be delivered into human hands. They will kill him. Three days after he is killed he will rise up.” But they didn’t understand this kind of talk, and they were afraid to ask him. Mark 9:31b-32 (CEB)

There are so many things we don’t understand. We need the rhythms of ordinary time. Plus celebrations and feasts. Be they Fat Tuesday, Christmas, or biblical holidays of the Jewish tradition. As well as times of retreat. Setting aside a season to do differently. These words jumped out at me:

What is the source of conflict among you? James 4:1a(CEB)

Politically. Nationally. In our churches, marriages, families. I consider again the call to collaboration. I realize that the new pastor at Bethel AME, Rev. Terrance Thomas, is holding Ash Wednesday services. And a noontime Wed book group studying Journey with Jesus through Lent. I feel a tug. An opportunity and challenge. 

Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness in the life he has given to us? James 4:5b(CEB)

Perhaps you want to add a practice these next forty days. Maybe, with Richard Rohr’s meditations, you want to investigate the Enneagram. A tool for becoming more whole. Or God may be prompting you to set aside something this Lent. To heighten your focus. The season invites us to an individual journey, in which we together invite God more fully into our lives. 

May we step boldly into the path prepared for us. May we encourage each other to love and good deeds. Putting aside conflict and fear, may we experience more faithfulness in the lives we’ve been given. 

Bulletin: 2/23
Order of Service: 2/23
Sermon: Collaboration: Embracing your Mess

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