Friday, 19 February 2010

40 days of personal satisfaction?

I have a problem with Lent, and it's because every year I feel it can be a bit of a self-satisfying guilt trip. The traditional disciplines of "giving up" something, or the decision to do something extra, can only lead to two things: a sense of achievement or failure. If the target is achieved there's a warm glow of satisfaction .... "I tell you, they have their reward already". If it's failure, then it's an increased sense of guilt at not having the personal strength of character to triumph. Out with the hair shirt and the whip.

Maybe it's just because I loathe this season. It somehow seems false - a superficial attempt to increase our sense of holiness, when what we should really be doing, and not just for the duration of Lent, is challenging the hypocrisy and prejudice that is plainly evident in the church.

This Sunday the Epistle reading from Romans will again be proclaimed: For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

A real challenge for this Lent would be to work to bring this scripture into reality. And our prayer should be: "Let it begin with me."

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