This past week I had the sinking feeling that I had “done” lent poorly this year. Which begged the question, is lent something to do? The most direct answer is, no, it’s not.
However, it is a season that can help position a soul, a family, even a group in such a way that you are not doing lent but entering a deeper relationship with He who is timeless. So when I say that I did lent poorly, what I really mean is that I am saddened to have missed an opportunity to reflect, to grow, and to walk with fellow sojourners more intentionally.
I am part of a community that humors me as I wrestle out loud and in ways that might appear ridiculous. A subgroup gathers faithfully Friday nights to join a less eternal, but still redemptive story, watching The Biggest Loser. This past week was a shorter episode, only 40 minutes with the commercials cut out. I received this extra time as a gift to start the weekend more appropriately postured than I had been during the preparatory season. I sent out a last minute email entitled Biggest Loser and Good Friday – all were welcome to join in a short Good Friday service after we had debriefed Makeover Week.
TV then a religious gathering. An odd juxtaposition, I know. A bit ridiculous? Perhaps. Needed for my soul? Absolutely. Touching this world and the next.
Twelve of us gathered for a Tenebrae service. Taking turns reading though Matthew, we started at the end of the last supper and read through Jesus’ death. Candles extinguished as the story progresses – Peter’s denial predicted. Candle snuffed. Praying in the garden. Candle snuffed. One by one they were put out until Christ dies. The final candle snuffed and we sat in the tomb-like dark room. People left as they were lead.
Reading with my brothers and sisters, we walked the path together. Denying we know him, sleeping in the garden, betraying with a kiss, we joined in the story. I cannot speak for them, but hearing their voices, voices I know in the light, read the words I needed to hear in the growing darkness postured this soul for Saturday mourning and Sunday rejoicing.
Though Christ cried it is finished, it’s never too late to join in. Even if it is day 38 of a 40 day season, that’s a key part of the gospel: it’s never too late!
(A deep felt thanks to my friends and China family for entering the shadows with me. I love you.)