Lent | 3.8.12
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).
Lent is a time when all nuance is gone and we are face to face with stark reality. Gone are the grays we like to live in to obscure how clear our choices are. Are we sure we are “out of darkness,” or have we grown comfortable with the things that overshadow us? Are we now living in “his wonderful light,” or do we kindle small fires of our own that barely keep us warm and only feebly illumine? Are we claiming to be part of “the people of God,” yet at the same time sinking back into the undifferentiated mass of those who truly are “not a people,” those whose highest aspirations are to live the American Dream of individualism and comfort while amusing ourselves to death?
Lent is our chance, not to double-down on good intentions or good deeds, but to once again feel in our bones that we “have received mercy.” We can afford to be hard on ourselves at Lent, to own up to our sins of sloth or lust or greed or pride or anger, because we know we will not receive condemnation from Christ, but mercy! T.S. Eliot put it this way, “[The Church] tells them of Life and Death, and of all that they would forget. She is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.”
This adamantine tenderness is deeply personal, for we each have a story to tell about how we have been “redeemed from the empty way of life” we used to live by “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pt 1:8-9). But we celebrate Lent together to remind ourselves that while our relationship to Jesus is personal, it is not private. For we are now “the people of God,” called by God from every ethnic group and nation and religious background. And as “God’s special possession,” we “declare the praises” of God to all those who do not yet know that the darkness is all ours, but the “mercy” and “wonderful light” is all Christ’s.
Vice President for Spiritual Development
You can download the full Lent and Holy Week Devotional Guide at:http://www.belmont.edu/religion/files/lent-devotional-2012-final.pdf