For many years, I believed that Lent was about giving up certain foods or activities for forty days. My view of Lent is shifting. It is becoming a time to plant spiritual seeds that will begin to take root and grow. As I plant these seeds, I anticipate the coming fulfillment during Easter and Pentecost. These forty days are connected to something much bigger than a bar of chocolate postponed until Easter. My deepest longings reach towards a greater purpose and lasting fulfillment..
The story of Sarah and Abraham in Genesis 17:1-7,15-16 is a story of fulfillment. Their seeds of covenant faithfulness open the way to an eternal legacy. God changed Sarai's name to Sarah and said, "I will bless her, and she will become nations; rulers of peoples will come from her" (Gen. 17:16b, First Egalitarian Translation).
In the spirit of Sarah and Abraham, our Lenten invitation is to open ourselves to fulfillment within ourselves and beyond ourselves. Lent is a time for a deepened covenant connection with the Creator. One way to approach this is to reframe the spiritual practice of prayer. Rather than just a duty on our Lenten list, prayer can be seen as a movement to and with. The story of Jesus during this season describes the deepening relationships between Jesus and his followers. It is a movement to shared vulnerability and a movement with the holy complexity that colors all relationships that dare to go beyond the surface.
People question Jesus, and Jesus questions them. The relationships Jesus engages are not easy. They are marked by grief, disappointment, misunderstanding, and impatience. Yet surprise, vulnerability, faithfulness, and shared mission also emerge. For those willing to risk, the twists and turns and stops and starts ultimately lead to fulfilling relationships and fulfilled purpose.
Transformation happens through relationships. The story of MCC has many intersections with the stories of Sarah, Abraham, and Jesus. From our earliest days, we have taken risks to plant seeds in places many would consider infertile. We have shared grief and disappointment. Misunderstanding and impatience have, at times, tested our relationships. Yet our vulnerability, risk-taking, and persistence have also been a gateway to joy and celebration.
This Lenten season is an opportunity for MCC to keep doing the work that will transform ourselves as we transform the world. Our global network of relationships, our willingness to innovate, and our desire for authentic faith are blessings leading us to deeper fulfillment.