“Don’t talk nonsense, dear. We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.”-Scobie, _The Heart of the Matter_by Graham Greene
In Advent and in Lent Christians take on an extra worship service every week. Why do we bother? In an already busy time, why would we add one more thing?
The Christmas rush of December makes Wednesday evening Advent services inconvenient. The movement of Winter-into-Spring in the ramp up to Easter makes Lenten services just as odd, as youth sports begin, house cleaning must be done, taxes are due, and…does the list ever end?
No. It doesn’t. And that’s the point.
Christians know that the rhythm of our work-a-day lives are killing us. And so for two seasons a year we decide to take back a little of our lives and hand them back to God, for just a little while.
In Advent we hold evening vigils, waiting for Jesus to arrive, like you might wait for a house guest who is on their way but delayed just slightly.
In Lent, though, we wait for a different reason. In Lent we wait in the same way that so many groups wait in the basement of churches weekly to tell truth to one another in support circles, truth that is much more real than much of the truth told in many sanctuaries, if we’re honest.
In Lent we wait in the same way that we wait in surgery rooms, telling one another stories of truth as life and death are at hand. In Lent we take time to wait in the same way that you wait up with a friend who is going through something, and you listen intently without the phone, without the TV, without that book calling you, making a concerted effort to concentrate on the moment at hand.
Lent is a time when we don’t talk the nice nonsense that we so often talk in our world, and we get to the deep, reflective facts.
In Lent we take time to tell extra truth so that we might actually experience the resurrection at Easter without those untold tales weighing us down.
“Your story helped me,” she said to me after I had given a testimony at a youth retreat. She had been where I had been, in that place of uncertainty. And just hearing my story helped her hear her own story, and helped her begin to let it go.
Every Wednesday evening of Lent here we’ll be hearing stories. Stories from people within our community who are telling the truth about their life, about how they saw God in hardship, about how “Jesus was a rock in a weary land” for them, to quote the old spiritual.
We’ll take intentional time in this busy season to hear some deep truth, trusting that their story will help our stories, somehow.
And why should you come? Because you have a story. And the God who gives us the salvation story at Easter invites us in these holy days to reflect on our stories in light of that salvation story, giving parts of it all up so that we might also rise out of our story-heavy tombs this Easter.
See you there.