Year C 2019
As we enter into Lent, I want you to look around. Things have changed. This liturgy is different. There is a great attempt to make this time different. The color is purple. The Paschal candle is gone. Behind the altar, we will not use flowers but instead a Lenten array of drift wood and thorns. The silver is put up. We have moved to Rite I. The hymns and anthems will reflect the season. I am amazed at how well Cindy thinks about the scripture as she chooses hymns to reflect those words. Listen to the words of the hymns you sing. It is all an attempt to help you; help us to know this Holy season and the reason we have it as part of our liturgical year.
I asked my brother-in-law once what his definition of vocation was? His answer, after much thought was, “It’s a school you go to instead of college”. I think that vocation is what we are called to be about during this wonderful and terrible season of Lent. Lent is the season in which we are called to refocus on vocation. Every Christian is called to vocation and that means that we are all, through our Baptismal covenant, able to hear God’s call to us and respond; knowing our sinfulness and our mortality. God is calling you to return to him. How are you going to respond?
There are a few people in my life that have done much to let me know the truth about what it means to be Christian; what it means to live out a life of faith. They are the saints that have touched me and led and reminded me of God’s call and the need to answer that call. They include my parents, Aunt Willie; my priest in college who is now the retired Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia and many others. They all have one thing in common; they took the time to let me know the truth about God’s saving grace and told me that God loved me, just as I am. They also challenged me. They pressed me beyond the places which were comfortable. They called me to step out and risk and it was in risking that I found my vocation. Lent, at its heart, is about vocation. It is about how you respond to God’s call and how that call is lived out or not lived out. Lent is about realizing how short you have come in fulfilling God’s hope in you. Lent is the season where we are called to know the truth; we have not listened to God’s call. We have fallen short of God’s hope for us. We have not living out the vocation which God calls each of us to.
I think sometimes Lent becomes more about the motions and less about motives. It is easy to ask the question, how little do we have to do, to make Lent, Lent? How little do I have to give up; how little do I have to let this season and more specifically God intrude on and in my life? Lent is not about the stuff that you give up. Lent is not about how good you do your prayers, or how much time you spend saying your prayers or how much you study the Bible. Lent is not about giving up chocolate, or beer or whatever you think will do you some good. Lent is about a relationship with God and about how we share that relationship with the world around us. Whatever you take on or give up, it is about knowing that God is and must be first. It is about getting rid of the clutter of things and beginning to know Vocare. It is about taking the clutter of the world and finding again your relationship with God. It is about knowing your humanity and the reality of your own death and beginning to again put your trust in the only thing that will last.
Those words on Ash Wednesday are startling. They are intrusive. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. Those words are intended to intrude upon you and challenge you to wake up; they are a call to stop walking through life and instead engage life; engage God; engage this community of faith. They are the words which call us to go deeper and wonder, question. They are the words which remind each of us of our mortality.