After the experience of Ash Wednesday, however different it might have been this year, I am pleased to begin our weekly offering of devotionals. In the coming weeks, you will hear from faculty, staff, and students as they share with you their own reflections on this sacred season.
“The Business of Lent”
Philippians 2:3-4 (NRSV)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others.
Easter is a little early this year, on April 4, so here at the beginning of Lent (the 40 days—excluding Sundays—before Easter), Advent and Christmas still seem fairly recent. Some of us are just now shedding the stress and anxiety of the Christmas season—shopping, baking, traveling, etc. And though the pandemic changed some of our normal routines, the holidays represent a type of “busy ness” few people enjoy repeating more than once a year.
So we welcome Lent, and the different kind of “busy” it brings. Lent is expressly spiritual, and beckons our attention inward. As the Philippians letter alludes, we are invited to the business of preparation. And we do this not only historically (i.e., remembering the story of Jesus, especially his 40 days in the desert), but we do this personally by seeking to empty ourselves and humble ourselves. So what does this look like for each of us?
If nothing else, the example of Jesus, which Paul highlights in the scripture, is a call to service—beginning with an awareness that no sister or brother is beneath us and that all are worthy of a good word or a good deed. We practice this when we wear masks in the pandemic, seeking to protect the health of vulnerable strangers. We practice this in our recent winter storms, supplying warmth, food, or comfort to those doing without. What will you do in the days ahead so that the practice of Lent becomes a permanent transformation of the mind?
Holy God, make quiet the noise around me so that I may prepare myself to faithfully follow Jesus. Help me honestly explore my relationship to others and the world. When I feel tall, make me small. When I feel superior, make me inferior. Thank you for Jesus who owned his humanity, humbled himself, and shows us how to live—in love and in service. Amen.
Rev. Lea McCracken, Associate Chaplain