Listening to Lent: Season Finale

We are nearing our Listening to Lent themed season, as Holy Week begins this Sunday. Let’s have a recap of what’s been going on at Holmeswood:

  • Our Facebook page offered Daily offerings since Ash Wednesday back in mid-February: Worship, devotionals, centering prayer sessions, small group discussions, local concerts and even mid-week reflections. It has been meaningful to connect daily with many of our church family, even as we are still working through the daily social limitations of the global pandemic.
  • Holmeswood unveiled a new project to renovate the sanctuary and the ancillary spaces, with a prayerful time to consider what we are offering as sacrifice to move this project forward.

Individually, what has your Lent looked like?

SUMMER IN THE PSALMS - PSALM 42 — Portage Community Chapel

What have you heard from God, others, yourself, Scripture, grief as you’ve journeyed through Listening To Lent?

  • What did you hear?
  • What was the circumstance when you heard it? Were you reading or driving, sitting still or..? Knowing our go-to places where we connect with God can be so helpful, especially as we habitually return for comfort and wisdom. (More on this in two weeks.)

Looking back on Lent, never again will I be able to separate ashes from glitter in my mind or in my life practice. The imagery started with a couple of friends’ Facebook posts saying “I’ve been in Lent for the past year; I can’t do ashes this Wednesday, February 17. I’d rather have glitter.” And it struck a chord inside of me, and I know that it did the same for quite a few of you, too.

For one stands alongside the other. Glitter and Ashes. When we are prostrated on the floor, forehead smushed into the rug, tears streaming everywhere and our eyes squinted shut, we will be immersed in the thick of the deep pain of life welling up inside. And not even 4 feet from us will sit a picture frame or a small treasure that reminds us of a memorable family reunion or some typical yet extraordinary Saturday at the lake with friends, even a book or heirloom that reminds us of loved ones. Only a few feet away sit evidence of the glitter of life, the small and monumental moments to celebrate this breath (right now) and that breath (sometime later, our last). For the fullness of life and the incredible gift of grace of another day washes over you and me like a glitter shower from Above.

No, glitter does not minimize the reality of the ashes. Loss, grief, death…they are as real as birth, life and happiness. Instead, glitter sneaks into the rug of life to Invite *pause* Gratitude. Invite Gratitude! God’s mercies are new every morning. And the glitter is so much brighter, those holy moments of deep love and joy wash over when we indeed are holding our ashes nearby, when we continue to grieve and heal, too. Glitter and ashes, all mixed up in our hands. Thanks be to the Christ of both ashes and glitter, to the Savior offering abundant life to each and all of us. Amen.

Now what?

As we move through Holy Week, we will stop at the Stations of the Cross. We will ponder the places where our Christ’s feet tread, the people he connected with and the deep grief of Good Friday. Then we will take a breath of relief come Easter Sunday, as we revisit the power of Christ’s resurrection and the new life stirring within each of our hearts and minds. (And we will remember Mary Magdalene’s first sermon from the tomb, too.) So, now what?

What do we do with this 6 1/2 week (or 12-month) lenten period? How do we move forward in our lives after this season? What does Jesus really want us to focus on? This verse swirls in my mouth as I read it, and I wonder how it sits with you as you read aloud:

 Isaiah 58:6 – Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Another interpretation, perhaps specific to today

What Does It Mean to Fast? | Good News Associates

Is the purpose of Lent (“fasting”) to, indeed, loosen the chains of injustice and remove all barriers of the oppressed? Does all of this purple-draped majestic tradition really point to sharing a real conversation with a dirt-covered person experiencing homelessness? Is “the rub” listening to the firsthand, horrific stories of oppressed minority groups of our home, the same home country we are proud of and feel most at ease within? Do we stand up for the oppressed in front of our cool (yet ignorant of their hurtful words) friend? Is lent really about being broken by the injustice to be put back together with cracked pieces of kindness, curiosity, discomfort, and even a need to face our own biases and (in)action?

I wonder with you what we have heard during Lent. And I am grateful for our simultaneous journey, fellow traveler.

Let us keep Listening.

~Laurel

Reminder: if you would like to be a part of the community art project of Scriptural Stations of the Cross, please let me know. It is this Sunday (3/28) from 3 to 4:30 pm in the church parking lot. Masks and physical distance required. All supplies provided and no artistic skill necessary. If you can color with washable markers inside the lines, you can do this. Message or email me to join in. Thanks!

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