We have begun the season of Lent. And for many it is marked by some sort of personal sacrifice. Giving up greasy fried foods. Giving up meat. Giving up carbs. Giving up sweets. Giving up Cheetos. Giving up drinking, smoking, swearing, or some other “vice.” While I understand that I also see something different. As usual I'll through in a few photo's of random stuff to keep you interested.
Faith in Christ that engages mind and body, heart and soul brings redemption and righteousness, salvation and sanctification. It transforms and transcends. Actions and words, doing and beings, letting go and latching on, those are the two sides of the one coin of faithfulness that the Lenten Season challenges us to engage and embrace.
On the one paw is the more familiar theme of “giving up” something for Lent or “giving it up.” But “giving it up” has another meaning. “Giving it up” doesn't just mean getting rid of something in your life. Sometimes “giving it up” means risking everything you have, “giving it all up” for something outside of yourself.
“Giving up” for Lent involves both word and action, both taking something on and letting something go. Lent isn't just about a temporary "get rid of bad habits or indulgences." It's also about taking on those things that are bigger than your own life. “Giving it up” for the greater good.
It's easy to give up Cheetos for Lent. It is much harder to give up the safety zones we build around ourselves, and our lives. It is much harder to give up our time. But if we feel Lent in our hearts and confess Lent with our mouths, that is exactly what we are challenged to do.
Lent is both about letting something go — bad habits, bad influences, weakening works — and about taking on something — reaffirming a commitment to Christ, risking a new course in life for Christ, renewing a heartfelt conviction in the resurrection of Christ.
For as long as I can remember my MOM has taken something on for Lent, which usually meant sacrificing some of her time and energy. One example is St. Anne's. Over 13 years ago my MOM joined the board of directors of St. Anne's Homeless Shelter. This meant meetings and time away from the things she likes. She even missed softball games (a big sacrifice for her) in order to serve on the board and help out. In the beginning she thought it would last a year. And she would be on her way.
More than 13 years later she is still there and even more so now. And yes she still misses out on some things, but seeing the beautiful things that are happening in others lives more than makes up for a softball game, or fishing trip, or even watching a favorite TV show. I see it this way, Jesus sacrificed so much, and if my MOM's small sacrifice helps make the world a better place it is worth it.
There is a story about Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton Hotels. During the political season back in the 50's he was interviewed and asked a question on live TV. The reporter said, “Mr. Hilton, there are five million people watching, you can say anything you want.” He realized he had a very large audience, so he looked the camera dead in the eye like a professional and said, “Next time any of you are in any hotel anywhere and you are planning to take a shower, please make sure that the shower curtain on the outside goes inside the bath tub.”
Bob Woodward applaud Hilton: “He knew what was important, he knew what his audience was, and he knew what he wanted to say. And if you think about it, it’s probably one of the most honest moments in modern media communications.”
But I say: Are you kidding? Is this the essence of your world, your wisdom, your life: “Put the shower curtain inside the tub?" If that is all life is, Give It Up! Forget about the shower curtain. Just throw in the towel.
And throw your hat into another ring. Give It Up and throw a towel of service and sacrifice into another ring, the ring of faith and fire.
Lent is about head, heart and hands coming together to bring us into a life of faith and ring of fire that is the most exciting adventure anyone can ever take. A life that is about so much more than keeping the shower curtain inside the tub.
So friends I say, Let’s Give IT Up this Lent: Give it up and count your blessings. Give it up and practice random acts of kindness. Give it up and savor, enjoy, and live life. Give it up and feel the joy of family and friends and strangers. Give it up and forgive someone. Give it up and show those you care about how much you love them. Give it up and give of your time and effort to those in need. Give it up and thank a "bridge" person in your life that has carried you across. Give it up and do something beautiful for someone you don't know.
Throw in the towel to the rat-race, and throw your heart into making a difference. Want to join me and my MOM and Give It Up? It's and adventure like no other. And to borrow a line from my friend LYDIA, it will leave you seeing beautiful.