Saturday, February 20, 2010

During Lent: Create Space

(Sermon for Ash Wednesday)

The season of Lent is a little bit like if we were going to clean out a house that is filled with magazines, newspapers, bills, boxes, garbage, dust, etc. Lent is a time to clean ourselves out, clean ourselves up, and make space for something new to come into our life.

The main tradition associated with the Lenton season is to give something up. The traditional idea (as I learned it) being that we will be in solidarity with Christ if we sacrifice something since he is sacrificing his life. Romans 8 expresses this sentiment when it says, “We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!”

This year, I would like to suggest that you give something up that is taking up too much space in your life (your spiritual house). Many of us hold onto things long after they are serving a healthy purpose in our lives, and if we get rid of them, we create space for God to do something new in our lives.

To give up:
A grudge, past hurt that continues to create conflict between you and someone, or that just keep you being sad.
An attitude that perpetuates unhappiness or is defeating.
A way that you spend your time that is wasteful.
Spending too much time alone or at work.

The Scripture says that we are to give our old life a decent burial and “get on with our new life” (Romans 8:13, so let's do it. Once we empty ourselves of whatever is taking up room and wasting space in our lives, then we can open ourselves to receiving whatever God wants to give us.

Instead of being depressed, you might learn acceptance and compassion.
Instead of getting frustrated, you might laugh and lighten up.
Instead of spending hours surfing the net, you might read or write or paint or clean or ...
Instead of hanging out with the same old crowd, you might challenge yourself to spend time with new people, or spend time with people you don’t give enough attention to now.

Just pick something to give up that, in giving it up, there will be a hole in you, a void, space. Then, open your heart and surrender yourself over to God. You don’t have to know what will come in its place, let God reveal that to you! You don’t know how God might bless you, but it will be something beneficial to you.

As it is written: “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?"(Romans 8:15). By the time we get to April, you will be seeing some sort of change in yourself, some form of new, resurrected life, but you have to take the Lenton challenge and give something up.

The difference between a stale, dirty, sad house and a lively, rich and happy house is cleaning the house out, opening the windows and letting the fresh air in.

May this Lent be a time of spring cleaning in your life/spiritual house.

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