That’s What Lent is For

A network of Presbyterian churches and leaders called together to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That’s What Lent is For

This has been one of those weeks. Not really one of “those” weeks, nothing terrible, just lots and lots of gray mist through which I’ve been trying to navigate a series of challenges. One thing about moving through this kind of fog—the bright spots seem even brighter.

One bright spot came at the very beginning of the week. In church Sunday morning there was a father with three small children in front of us. Older sister was placed between two younger brothers to maintain some semblance of order (after the gathering music), but the magic happened when we said the Apostle’s Creed. Dad was holding younger brother #1 who was looking back at me at eye level. He was watching me very closely. As we started to say the Creed I looked directly into his eyes, figuring he’d look away as soon as he found something more interesting than a guy he didn’t know saying words he didn’t know. He never did. We held each other’s gaze from the “I believe” straight through to the “Amen.” I actually got to speak those ancient, living words directly into the soul of a two year old—my heart to his heart to God’s ear. WOW!

It reminded me of another time about 23 years ago. It was Easter Vigil in my first called pastorate. We had navigated all the lessons, hymns, psalms, and Eucharist of that holy celebration, and it was time to sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.” I looked over from the Table and saw my daughter (about the same age then as the boy last Sunday) standing on the pew next to our choir director who would catch Becca’s eye every time the “Alleluia” came around. By the second stanza Becca was singing right along—on the “Alleluias.” The other words would come later but, at that moment, she got it.

These are the times we realize this Church we’re part of has been vibrant long before we showed up, and will be long after we’re looking up at the root system of an azalea someplace. Discipleship is the simple act of sharing faith. It can happen in a thousand different forms, but faith is passed along from a believing heart to a receiving heart. Pretty simple actually.

Many of us are finding ourselves in a seemingly unending fog at the moment, navigating our individual challenges, large and small, amid global unrest, political surrealism, financial instability, congregational and denominational upheaval, family drama—the list goes on. It’s easy to become disoriented and dismal when the mist gets too gray. But “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1) and God has yet to abandon the joy of delighting and re-grounding us, one bright spot at a time, just about the time we need it most.

Those of us who spend our time discipling need discipling too. We need to be the receiving heart listening to a believing heart reminding us that, in God’s time, everything sad will come untrue. That’s part of what Lent is for—remembering the bright spots in the mist, and how to sing our “Alleluias.”