I can understand why people don’t like the Lenten season. When I started attending a church where the Lenten season was observed, I wasn’t excited about my worship experiences during that time.
Lent is dark and cold during a season of the year that’s dark and cold. The music is often ominous and dirge-like. Every Sunday, there is a prayer of confession that I am asked to participate in remembering all of my shortcomings and the ways that I haven’t lived as one called by God to participate in God’s holy work here on earth.
Isn’t this why we are baptist? To avoid the liturgical calendar and practices like this one? Isn’t observing Lent just a little too catholic for us who believe every member is a minister? Why would moderate or progressive baptist churches choose to participate in this season?
I am not sure I understood the why until this year as I worked on the bulletin for our Ash Wednesday service tomorrow night.
Gracious God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole hearts, and we have not loved our neighbors as we love ourselves. Forgive us, we pray. Open our hearts wide to you, that you might renew our faith and strengthen us for obedient service. Amen.
Being reminded as a minister that not only have I not loved God with my whole heart, but I have also not loved my neighbor as myself is humbling. Leading a congregation in a prayer of confessions that asks me to voice the worries and concerns I have about living a self-indulgent life instead of a selfless life feels just hits a little to close to home.
Gracious God, don’t you understand I’m trying to hold it together here. I’m trying to lead by example here, but having to utter a prayer of confessions means having to admit that I’m not holy all the time. I’d rather my congregation not know how many things I’ve left undone that could have changed someone’s life and giving them hope. I’d rather not admit that my faith needs strengthening. Please Lord, can’t we just skip Lent this year?
I need to admit to myself and to my congregation that rather than harping on all the good things we do and patting ourselves on the back, learning to bow our heads and our knees acknowledging that our world so desperately needs change and we pass up opportunities every day, is so important.
We can do better.
We can be better.
Even if we are dust and to dust we will return.