Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
So how did your smudginess turn out? If you’re a visitor, don’t worry. You’re not supposed to know that smudge means ashes. I hoped that seeing someone marked with ashes would help me remember to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

I’m always amazed how many people come for ashes (and the palms that make them). Is it that we need something tangible to hold on to?  Whatever it takes, once again, we want to accept the challenge of Lent. During the first half of Lent, we look at ourselves. In the second half we look at Jesus and what his life and death means for us. Looking at ourselves with honestly will make it easier for us to see Jesus clearly. How do we do that? We “do” Lent!

Lent is all about Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. These are the tools that help us take that interior look into ourselves that is so important. We call it THE PFA CHALLENGE.

We found our banners and hung them up. Now we ask ourselves, how do we do it this year. What has been going on in my life that makes this year’s challenge different from other years?

Prayer is the promise I make to God to spend some time with Him. Before anything else, prayer is a time issue. How we pray, what we say, where we say it... all those things can’t happen until I first give God space and time in my life.

I know for myself my P for this Lent must be looking at the time I spend with the Lord. Just because I’m doing holy things with you, like celebrating the Eucharist, doesn’t always mean that I came to the celebration with my full attention. If I’m not tuned in, I’m not going to hear the broadcast.

Fasting is another word that has a lot of levels of meaning. The basic idea is two-fold:

  1. By bringing a little personal deprivation into my life, “giving something up”, maybe I can really create a space into which the Lord can move more easily. Fasting isn’t supposed to be a weight control program (although it probably wouldn’t hurt if I lost a few...). Let “giving something up” really mean “making room”, making room for God.
  2. The second value to fasting is that by not using something myself, perhaps it becomes a way for me to free up resources for someone else.

And voila here comes the A. Almsgiving. The word has ancient roots in Greek and Latin and the fundamental meaning of the word is rooted in the idea of “pity” and “mercy”. Compassion and charity extend the concept. You might not easily deduce all those dimensions when you look at the word “alms”. Maybe it’s a good metaphor for showing us that true charity isn’t as easy to do as it seems like it ought to be.

I get a lot of appeals in the mail. Ten a day isn’t unusual. I’m sure one charity will share a name with another, etc. I found myself becoming cynical. I had to stop and say, “Wait a minute. If I was running one of these projects that worked with homeless, or medically deprived children, or native American missions in the middle of nowhere, I would probably be doing everything I could to raise the money I needed to make it work.” What is “almsgiving”? Indeed.

Lord help me pray, and fast, and give, in new and deeper ways.
In Jesus,
sign frjim

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