Allowing God to be in charge of my Lenten life

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Ash Wednesday our deacon at Holy Cross Church, the Rev. Marilyn Walters, gave the best and most inspiring Ash Wednesday sermon I have ever heard. I recommend it to you.  You can hear it on our Holy Cross website at I am going to steal rather shamelessly today from her sermon’s theme wherein she says that during the season of Lent, while it is traditional to “give something up” it is just as important to “take something up.”

I have never been very good at Lenten disciplines. I went the traditional route of giving up luxuries and indulgences for many years, and almost always fell off the wagon by the end of the second week. I have tried to take on disciplines aimed at accomplishing something positive in those days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, such as polishing up my Biblical Greek or reading the Patristics (the writings of the early Church fathers). But, alas, I would inevitably get “too busy” to follow through and those efforts would fall flat on their holy faces.  Since I was often trying to set a rather pompous public example, my failures were invariably embarrassing. For several years I made no effort at having a Lenten discipline at all, but I failed at that, too, and would start and stop several differing attempts in willy-nilly fashion.

It finally dawned on me one day that my problem was that my Lenten disciplines were always about me — my ego, my image, my self-righteousness and public sanctimony — and that is why they were such  failures. I was trying to do something for my sake; God was in there somewhere, but I was center stage.

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