This week commences the season of Lent – a season that hasn’t had high profile in our church. In thinking again about what this season is about I found this quote:
In “Lenten Discipline,” her sermon on Luke’s version of the temptation of Jesus in the desert, Barbara Brown Taylor gives a wonderful description of how Lent came to be. After all, Lent’s not in the Bible – it’s really more of a “church thing.” Many years after Jesus had not returned as quickly as expected, Taylor explains, the followers of Jesus had learned to accommodate their own lives to the surrounding culture, finding “no contradiction between being comfortable and being Christian.” So much for martyrdom, bold witness and challenging the powers that be, speaking out or standing up for the poor and the marginalized. Instead, Taylor says, our ancestors in faith “decided to be nice instead of holy and God moaned out loud” (Home by Another Way).
I am regularly reminded of the extent to which the church has elevated the quality of ‘being nice’ to such an lofty status, whereas the scriptures call us to sacrificial service in the pursuit of true kingdom values – such a shalom, and justice. Perhaps this Lent we might resolve to ‘give up’ being ‘nice’ and recommit ourselves to true ‘holiness.’