Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lent...the Third Post

I'm not even trying to keep track of what "day" of Lent it is. It's Lent...good enough. Apparently many of us are in this place of trying to launch this thing, and not feeling like our take-off is going particularly well. My friend C sent me this yesterday from d365 and I found it hopeful and comforting:

Lent is about change. We think about what we want to quit doing, or what we want to do more or better, and we make promises, and try really hard. That’s good,and that’s as it should be. But know this: the Spirit of God is always working in you, on you, with you, to transform you. You are swimming with the current,in other words, and God knows where you’re going.

R and I have been attending a non-denominational service on Sunday afternoons for the past month or two. It's hard for me to even call it church as it's so far from my experience of that particular thing. I say that in a couple ways. For one thing, it's in a big meeting room at the Y. It's informal, no real "prayers" are said, there is no "liturgy" as such. We do have ritual in that we gather and share a meal and fellowship, then we usually sing together, often some contemporary Christian music. perhaps with new words provided by the Methodist pastor who has been the main impetus behind the group. After that there is something to kick off discussion. Lately we have been using the Nooma series by Rob Bell. This week we watched a video called "Shells," the theme of which was purpose. One of the discussion questions was about "the one thing" in our we know what that is, do we focus on it? Is that our purpose in life? Basically the folks at my table all just kind of sat and stared at each other. Well, duh, yeah of course we all know what the answer is supposed to be here....most of us somewhere along the way went to church or Sunday school and heard that the one thing was God, Jesus, and that is supposed to be the focus and purpose of our lives But are we doing it, can we do it? Two of us at my table are "professionally religious" types, myself and a woman who is a commissioned lay pastor. Another man whom I did not know clearly has a church life as he was able to quote scripture to chapter and verse. Others I know to be people of faith, but we were all in agreement that "the one thing" can be many things and that it changes sometimes many times, not only in the course of a life, but in the course of a week or even a day.

Perhaps we were not thinking deeply enough....maybe we were thinking more about focus than purpose...I don't know. I do know I can, and do, get awfully distracted from what I really, honesty do know is the One Thing. And not just by shiny things! By every day things, by just the flotsam and jetsam and the grocery list. By the cat box and the gas tank. By the e-mail from a friend whose concerns become mine, by the overheard remark I cannot let go. And by happiness and anticipation. By "what comes next." But I also know that somewhere, down there underneath it all, like a deep spring, like a life giving underground well....God is always there. Do I take God for granted? Perhaps. Is that wrong? Maybe. Or maybe not. There is a permission in loving relationships to rely... so I am assume that permission is given to look away for a time, to focus on other things with the assumption that if you were to suddenly look back, or fall into....the loved one would still be there. Is it not this way with God? Or am I simply telling myself something I want to hear so I can be distracted with out guilt? As I am working on giving that up for Lent you know. Well, those are the thoughts as I go off into Wednesday as the the first full week of Lent ends and the second one begins.

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