Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Much Needed Rest

We are a nation of people who do. Action is our heritage; we were born out of a pioneer spirit fueled by unfailing energy and industriousness. We are constantly constructing, re-arranging, and destroying our environment in a frenzy of activity. If you are a college student, this description of the American Spirit is never more appropriate than during midterms. For many of us, the coming week is one of the busiest of the year, that magical time when exams, scholarship and internship applications, work, and spring break preparations combine to create a tornado of caffeine hangovers and stress dreams. I am sure we are all feeling the pressure. I know I am.

As those of you who attended interdenominational service this morning, or who listened over the radio know, Dean Hill spoke of substituting action for reflection. In the Gospel reading: Matthew 17: 1-9, Peter, on seeing Jesus transfigured, is immediately moved to act. Before he finishes voicing his dreams of construction to Jesus, however, God speaks, saying: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17: 5-6)

As people of faith, we often focus on our actions as Christians. We easily forget that we are daily receivers of grace, mercy, love, kindness. As important as it is to act on our faith, it is just as important to reflect, to meditate, and to listen.

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty day period of Lent. Just as Jesus retreated into the desert to meditate and pray, so are we called to use this time to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Easter celebration. Many Christians use Lent as a time to change a small part of their lives, giving up some luxury in order to use the absence of something to remind them of their faith. While this is a wonderful way to practice self-denial and a great way to be mindful of all of our blessings, I have another suggestion to make. As we move into Lent, instead of planning on doing or not doing something for forty days, it might be more spiritual, more beneficial, to open up a space in our lives for being still, being open, and receiving. God has so much to give us.

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