That time of year again
I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that paid much attention to Lent. A few childhood friends, usually Roman Catholic, talked about giving up things like cake, ice cream or cookies. They almost always fell off the wagon within a week or so. So why bother in the first place?
Nearly three years ago I revisited Lent. The short litany below challenged me to give up several things I greatly desire.
I let go my desire for security and survival.
I let go my desire for esteem and affection.
I let go my desire for power and control.
I let go my desire to change the situation.
Quoted by Cynthia Bourgeault in Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, p. 147 (Cowley Publications 2004)
Several weeks ago I attended a Sunday morning worship service at a nearby African American church. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was warmly welcomed, and also felt somewhat lost. The pastor had invited me to hear a guest speaker/preacher.
I was happy to be there. Most attendees were African Americans. They didn’t worship according to spoken or unspoken rules and traditions of churches I’ve been in most of my life. I was out of my comfort zone, not always sure what to do next.
I’d like to believe I’m not part of racial tension in the USA today. Yet I know this isn’t true. In some ways, it chose me; I didn’t choose it. Still, I’m aware of my resistance to changing the comfortable routine I enjoy, especially on Sundays.
So I’ve been asking what I can do to get out of one of my favorite comfort zones, churches that worship the way I worship. It matters where and with whom I worship, and according to whose traditions. It also has the potential to change me yet again, from the inside out.
I don’t know how this will play out. Nonetheless, I’m beginning again with the prayer above, and another visit to this church.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 26 February 2020
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