“What are you giving up for Lent?” That’s a question I often get around this time of year as we begin another forty days of Lent on Wednesday. As I find myself confronting my life, my choices, my desires, I sift the reality of who I often am with the self I desire to be. Giving something up can certainly help me in that process of sifting as I translate the self I am to the self I hope to become. But moving myself closer to God isn’t as easy as going without chocolate or giving up meat for forty days; the point is self-examination so that we’re more aware of whom and whose we are, that we remember to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. If giving something up helps you towards that end then, by all means, I’ll ask you what you are giving up for Lent. But if you’re plan is simply to deny yourself something that you enjoy merely for the sake of going without it then I’m not sure how that connects your life closer to God; while there is a place in the history of Christian spirituality for the denial of the wants of the self it must be practiced carefully to have a desired effect. Often you’ll hear folks begin to talk about what they’re taking on for Lent, as a way to gloss over the focus on giving up and look hopefully to what they can improve. I used to be a person in this camp, someone who would rather build than tear down. But the truth is there are some things that need to go, some practices, attitudes, and ideas that it’s time to let go of; and there is a place for us to take a step in a new direction, listen with our ears and see with our eyes what we’ve been ignoring or forgetting or have lost. The invitation to a holy Lent that we’ll hear on Ash Wednesday is something that invites us to both give up and take on, and I think there’s good wisdom in that if we choose wisely. If you haven’t joined us at Trinity Commons or on campus and you’ve been meaning to then I think this is a really good time to do it. If you’re worried about being with a group of people you don’t know or if you’ve been away for a while and you think we won’t be glad to see you then I invite you to let go of that fear: you are welcome with us no matter if it’s your first time or your first time in quite a while. May this week be a new start for a new direction in your life, and may you have the courage, wisdom, and strength to let go of what holds you back and find, in new ways, the presence of Jesus with you.
Tuesday at 6pm is pasta night and it’s Shrove Tuesday. Traditionally it’s a day when, as you begin Lent the next day, you use up all the sugar, butter, and cream in the house so that you’re not tempted to eat them during Lent; and it usually comes in the form of pancakes. While I love pancakes I love pasta more, so we’ll ‘use up’ our cream and butter in making Fettuccine with Asparagus and Asiago Cream Sauce. Asiago is a cheese (and who doesn’t love cheese?), cream is, well, cream, and asparagus is what you add for color and to pretend that the large amounts of pasta, cream, and cheese you’re about to eat is actually healthy. So if you’d rather enjoy pasta instead of pancakes then come join us at 6pm as we indulge in such deliciousness.
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, we’ll have Ash Wednesday at Trinity Commons at 6pm. You’re welcome to begin your Lent with us.
And next Thursday (3/14) from 4-5pm we’ll begin our Lenten series ‘With Love’ all about how we navigate the complex world of love, sex, and relationships. It’ll be an honest and open exploration of our identity and faith, and how we make sense of all of it. I hope to see you there.
On Campus This Week
Tuesday I’ll be at the usual spot in the front of the Caf at BSC around 9am. Come by and visit to say hey, let me know how it’s going, and share whatever you want to share. Then you can join us for our last pre-Lent Eucharist in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45.
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. As usual, I’ll be hanging out in the University Center by the O Henry’s around 9am if you’d like to come by and sit and join me. Then, at Noon we’ll gather in Reid Chapel for a shortened Ash Wednesday Eucharist.
Thursday is our usual Hill hangout, and the last one before your spring break. Come by and join me anytime between 10am and 3pm for coffee, conversation, and lunch. I’m there at a table near the exit to Univ. Blvd, so you’re invited to stop by whenever you’d like.