Call me weird, but I like Lent. In Lent, I find an affirmation of life that nothing, neither sin nor death, defeats. Plus, there is nothing more thrilling for me as a person of faith and as a worship leader than arriving at Easter again each year.
I recognize that there are good people who steadfastly refuse to fast, to observe a Holy Lent. I understand that the mantra “Ashes we are; to ashes, we return” is intimidating, but a statement is no less true simply because it is unpleasant or inconvenient.
Churches who pretend that death is not out there often lack spiritual depth and are not likely to be adequately prepared for death when the time comes. Furthermore, churches who are incapable of thinking of congregational life beyond this generation usually fade into the past along with their current membership.
The number of people who are more comfortable with the idea of a congregation’s death than their own demise fascinates me. The latter is inevitable; the former is not.
In the clip from The Work of the People’s The Church and Death series that we watched in the adult class yesterday, former Duke University professor Stanley Hauerwas observes that, “Death is one of the things that modern Christianity doesn’t know how to deal with.”
When all conversation is surface conversation and all theological reflection is focused on everybody else’s sins, there isn’t much space in congregational life for reflections on life’s ultimate questions, like, “How does faith in Jesus Christ make our lives meaningful?”
This question is the one with which yesterday’s adult class concluded, and it is one with which we will grapple throughout the season of Lent.
I am super-excited about the Living with Death series that I am leading along with Steve Grubb this Lent. If you are not already participating in this conversation, then please join us in the church library every Sunday during Lent at 9:00 a.m.
You may be surprised by how much laughter fills the room as we consider a subject as potentially morose as this one. You also may appreciate some of the more practical implications of this series, as subjects as diverse as funeral and estate planning will be discussed.
I don’t know how many of you choose a fast to observe this Lent, but regardless of what you are giving up and/or taking on, I hope that Living with Death will be part of your journey.