Lent - A time to become
Throughout the year, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for Monday, March 9th: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 128; and Hebrews 3:1-6. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Today is the 69th day of the year. How many of us have kept to our New Year’s resolutions? How many of us even remember what they were? An article in Forbes Magazine reported that on average it takes approximately 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic. This means that if we have abandoned our resolutions already, then we never really gave them a chance to take hold. We didn’t give them enough time.
Today is also the 13th day of Lent. We’re making our way toward Jesus’ Passion, that is the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the cross and Jesus’ death. And today the church’s lectionary asks us to read the passage about Israel’s impatience on their way from slavery to the Promised Land. They were ready to revolt because events were not happening quickly enough. They were demanding that God move faster.
Sometimes this is just not possible. The story of the Exodus is one of liberation and transformation. Those long decades of wandering built these freed slaves into a people, a nation. Israel needed the time to become. We may want to become more quickly, but sometimes it just takes time, somewhat like the 66 days for a new habit to take hold. We can make all the resolutions we want, but it takes time for them to help us become.
Lent is a time to take time. I once went on a church retreat with the college chapel I belonged to at Brandeis. We traveled to a Trappist monastery. Trappists take vows of silence. Their entire life and worship are centered on contemplation. One of the monks was tasked with speaking to us oh so wise and learned college students. He offered advice that I have not forgotten over all these decades and have not stopped pondering. He advised us: “Learn to waste time with God.”
The statement stuck because it sounded scandalous, but the monk wanted us to spend time with God, to give God a chance to be a part of our lives and to help us become. This isn’t magic. It doesn’t happen with a snap of the fingers. It takes time to become. Lent is a special and sacred season that offers us time with God. Let us not be impatient as the reading warns us today. Let us cherish the time we are now in as a time to become.
The cross on the hill can be seen from a distance, but with time we can walk closer and begin to see Jesus, and to even get close enough to speak words to Him that take time. Lent’s time is a blessing. Let’s not rush through it. Let’s take advantage of it. Let’s become.
Faith, love and chitchat.
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