Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Keeping Lent

The Presiding Bishop’s Lent message for 2013 encourages us “to pray, to fast, to act in solidarity with those who go without. Learn more, give alms, share what you have. Be conscious about what you eat.”

Awareness of worldwide hunger and how addressing that is tied together with our own spiritual healing is the theme of Episcopal Relief and Development’s Lenten meditations. The meditations are available as daily e-mails or in booklet form.

Awareness of what we eat, of how it is produced, packaged, and transported is intertwined with all sorts of environmental issues, and hunger around the world is exacerbated by the increase in extreme weather events resulting from climate change.

The Gospel teaches that the way we treat those in the greatest need is the way we treat Christ; our relationship with Christ is tied to our relationship with the hungry, the poor, and all those who are marginalized.  And even the most perfunctory Lenten disciplines – meatless Fridays or giving up sweets – are taken on with some sort of awareness of a relationship between our spiritual well-being and what we eat.

We are spiritually healthy when we are in good relationship with God, one another, and God’s creation. Being conscious about what we eat – or being intentional about just about any part of life – helps us become more aware of the web of connections in which we live. That awareness helps us see that when we desire to grow in our relationship in Christ, we can’t approach life as if our daily decisions affected no one but ourselves. That’s why stewardship, including environmental stewardship, is an essential piece of discipleship.

Robert Herrick wrote “To Keep a True Lent” in the 17th century, but the core idea of the poem is very much in keeping with what Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Episcopal Relief and Development say to us as we begin Lent in 2013.

by Robert Herrick

Is this a fast, to keep
                The larder lean ?
                            And clean
From fat of veals and sheep ?

Is it to quit the dish
                Of flesh, yet still
                            To fill
The platter high with fish ?

Is it to fast an hour,
                Or ragg’d to go,
                            Or show
A downcast look and sour ?

No ;  ‘tis a fast to dole
                Thy sheaf of wheat,
                            And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
                From old debate
                            And hate ;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent ;
                To starve thy sin,
                            Not bin ;
And that’s to keep thy Lent. 

No comments:

Post a Comment