Lent: We walk into the gathering danger & doubt surrounding Jesus as he made choices that led to the Cross.
This is a time of preparation & reflection.
Where have you been this year & where might you be going?
What are the things that have kept your journey on pause?
What are the choices you have made that you would like to revisit? A Lenten Collection
Sin Will Find You Out Image: Heath Brandon
I have been doing some thinking about this last Lenten blog for 2015. I have sincerely enjoyed exploring some of the traditional language and concepts for this season and attempting to find ways to translate them in a manner that might frame them as a practice and/or a discipline. Primarily, I thought this would be a helpful exercise for those for whom this season is unknown or those who might be exploring it for the first time or are trying to see it with new eyes.
I started these Lenten blogs with an exploration of using the metaphor of shadows and light to describe the season. After that I offered a few ways to understand the following traditions: Prayer as intention and Penance as forgiveness. Finally I tried to share Chris’ story as one way to connect them. In this blog, therefore, I thought I would go large or go home … so let’s try on sin for a challenge!
Sin – it’s perhaps one of the biggest trigger words that is connected to Christianity. It shuts down conversation, is instantly heard as judgement and often conjures images of fire, brimstone and creates a general sense of inherent badness that must be addressed by punishment. For the majority of most Canadians – for whom organised religion is not a way of life – the word simply reinforces assumptions about what it means to be a Christian. And – unfortunately – traditional media’s usual portrayal of Christian faith communities does not do much to dissuade that image.
I admit that it’s one of those words with such a rich history and depth that it is worth considering reclaiming. I also know that such an endeavour is merely an academic imagining: sin will never be accessible and it will certainly never be used to invite people to consider reflection and change, transformation and awakening as something that a discipline of faith might invite. Nope – it’s out with the sin … which becomes problematic for Christians during Lent as it’s a pretty traditional anchor to the season!
So … what if sin were framed as both an individual and collective (a personal and a corporate) sense of brokenness?
What if reflection around sin actually meant we were able to confront – even if most uncomfortably and awkwardly – our own brokenness?
What if taking those steps of self-knowing were not about judgement or punishment, but about opportunities for integration and healing?
What if sin’s intention is not grounded in a blanket of inevitable and intrinsic malaise or dis-ease, but foreshadows a longing and desire to move from fragmentation to wholeness?
What if the intention is to find ways to look into that reflection and imagine that we are not only enough, but that we are each meant to shine brightly and passionately?
I think that might be a pretty great way to begin to appreciate Lent as a journey of difficult choices that possesses the potential to transform lives – mine and yours – when we realise that without a sense that we all are connected, we too easily fall down with no one willing to offer a hand … I’m not sure if this brief exploration has opened a door for you Reader, but I hope that it begins a process of your own questioning that might allow us to ask what our assumptions are when we experience language and words with which we feel discomfort. I don’t think sin is any longer (if ever it was) an invitation to begin a spiritual practice: perhaps the idea that we are all on a journey that longs for us to move from our individual challenges and brokenness toward a shared sense of holistic and integrated being might be worth considering …