A Swift Kick in the Trousers (February 20, 2012)

…Opening To…

The glory of these forty days we celebrate with songs of praise; for Christ, through whom all things were made, himself has fasted and has prayed. (Hymn from the 6th century; trans. Maurice F. Bell)

…Listening In…

Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! (Psalm 51:1-2; context)

…Filling Up…

With another Lenten Alphabet just around the corner beginning on devotiONEighty on Wednesday, today and tomorrow will be a pair of devos rather than the start of a weeklong set. Lent begins Wednesday, so we’ll take the next two days to talk about why Lent is so important. But first, a reminder about we modern Americans.

Americans are rarely a self-reflective people. We have eyes only for result and effect, caring little for process and cause. We seek to assign blame, caring little for our own culpability. We repeat the mistakes of the past, caring little for the lessons those mistakes teach. Never look back. Never let ‘em see you bleed. Never stop to think or the world will pass you by.

Living in this results-driven world is, at the same time, both exceedingly difficult and quite easy. It’s difficult because true joy, the fuel for any fruitful life, is a scarce commodity. Joy happens during not after, and in a results-oriented society, the during is dismissed as superfluous. But this dismissal is why the results-driven life is also quite easy. You crop half of life away. The journey becomes unimportant: only the destination matters. How easy would a test be if you only had to score a 50% to pass?

Self-reflection makes life hard, but it also allows us to recognize that joy abounds, poised to infuse our lives with meaning. Because we are such poor practitioners of self-reflection and because our culture tells us not to take time for such a revealingly honest enterprise, we need a swift kick in the trousers to boot us from the grasping current of the results-driven half-life.

In the Church, this swift-kick-in-the-trousers is called the season of Lent. And we’ll talk more about it tomorrow.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the source of all joy throughout your creation. Help me to live my life fully in your love so that I may follow you throughout my journey, meeting you all along the way to the destination. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, glad that you have given me the strength and the will to reflect on my journey with you.

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