This year has started out as one for me that already seems very Lenten like. Our congregation has witnessed a preponderance of death and illness. Our church as an institution, along with many, many others, is shivering in the cold, cruel realities of decline through aging and death, as well as the not uncommon case of inability to draw enough new membership to compensate for the losses. All of this is enough to make any organization and its leader discouraged. Of course, we are not facing persecution and crucifixion at the levels experienced by Jesus, but it still can bring a body down.
In my own personal life, in the past 12 months I (along with my family), have remodeled a home and staged to sell our home of 10 years, sold a=the house, bought a home, moved, remodeled (still in process) the new house, said goodbye to our family dog, mourned the death of my mother, and embarked upon a long and arduous process to reclaim a healthy and happy weight for this 53 year old body. So, between the professional and the personal losses and sacrifices, I'm taking a stand this Lent! I am not giving up anything more than I already am (least of all wine or dark chocolate), and although it has been popular in recent years to take on a new spiritual practice such as centering prayer, daily devotions, fasting or service, I am not going to do that either. Instead, I have a different plan.
My plan is simply to change my attitude. Sounds easy, huh? Well, a while back when things seemed particularly grim, I found this box at a gift store. I bought it and posted a picture and it sits in my room as a reminder. Lately, I've been bored with my glum and self-centered attitude. So, I pray this simple proverb will be my daily guide.
My own adaptations would be to add a few more proverbs to this. I also want to talk less and listen more, take less and give more, laugh more and cry more, die less and live more. And when death occurs, I will believe more and more fully the power of resurrection. After all, our Brief Statement of Faith in the Presbyterian Church (USA) opens with these words, "In life and in death we belong to God," and Irenaeus of Lyons wrote in the 2nd Century, “Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God.” Another translation says: “The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God” (Against Heresies, Book 4, 20:7). In all that is and all that I am and all that will be, may I behold life and God. May it be so this Lent 2013.