Lent: A Time to Give Up, Take Up and Receive

Lent: A Time to Give Up, Take Up and Receive

2/13/2015

Dear Beloved Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

It was Good Friday 20 years ago. I had just finished preaching at the Interfaith Good Friday Service which was held that year at the Presbyterian Church. On my way back into my office to make preparations for the evening service and for the several services on Easter Sunday I met the music director coming out of the church. When he asked the usual “How are you?” I said, “I think I have Holy-week-itis.” He replied with words I’ve never forgotten, “Jesus must have felt that way, too!”

Suddenly my whining was put in perspective. I was stunned and ashamed. I thought I was being so faithful in all of my busyness but in reality I had forgotten who Jesus was and is.

The Lenten season offers us an opportunity to allow Jesus to walk with us in new ways, to keep Jesus at the center of all that we do, to remember to focus on Jesus, and Jesus alone.

We often think of Lent as a time to sacrificially “give up” that which is important to us as a means of understanding in a deeper way the ultimate sacrifice which Jesus made. Giving up in a prayerful way is indeed an important spiritual discipline which can make our faith more real. Whether fasting from food or from other practices, one’s spirit is opened in new and powerful ways and a closer walk with God becomes possible.

Another way to observe Lent is to “take up” a new spiritual or lifestyle practice. This year we are encouraging you to use Lent in order to take up a renewed emphasis on “Imagine No Malaria.” To be prayerfully active can change your life and the lives of others. On the NYAC website we have posted a calendar which makes daily suggestions for drawing closer to Jesus by participating in saving lives.

I want to suggest a third practice which is, in a sense, included in the previous two: being open to “receive from Jesus” during Lent. I want to suggest that when you focus intentionally on the presence of Jesus in your life:

  • what you receive in return is the fulfillment of the promise: you are never alone.
  • what you receive is the possibility of living a grace-filled life in new ways.
  • what you receive is that by drawing closer to the light of Christ; this light will then shine through you.
  • what you receive is a deeper awareness of the call to serve the marginalized, the poor, and the broken-hearted as Jesus did.
  • what you receive is blessing upon blessing.

“In the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.”

May this season of Lent be a time in which Jesus lives in your life in new and wonderful ways.

In Christ's love,

Bishop Jane Allen Middleton