As I walked into the softly lit sanctuary, something in the room appeared to hush the noise of the day beyond the softly falling snow outside. It brought a welcoming quiet, an invitation to pause, reflect, and consider once more.
It was Ash Wednesday just a few years ago, the traditional beginning of Lent, the 40 days prior to the celebration of Easter, the provision for our salvation.
As the worship music began, it too had been chosen to turn our hearts, minds, and spirits to ponder and examine the relationship at the center of my life. The lyrics and the melodies invited meditation.
It can be far too easy not to stop for this day on the calendar in many of our non-Catholic churches. It also can be too easy to get lost in traditions and lose track of its purpose.
Lent is a time for examining my heart. It is a time to pause in the doing of my life, even the doing for Him. Lent is a time for being with Him, a time of soberly considering the condition of my life.
Lent is a time to remember.
It is a time to consider the horror of the cross was necessary for my sin, my unrighteousness. It is a time to remember no matter how long I have known Him that I have no righteousness of my own. And it is time to mull over my human weaknesses that can still tempt me to fall prey to their seductions.
What does it really mean to follow Christ, to deny myself and follow Him?
I think it is less about denying myself some thing I enjoy and more about denying me, me and all that is not Him within me.
As I enter Lent and approach Good Friday, it means identifying with a dead man even as I recognize the death He suffered was my fate were it not for Him.
It is more than going along with Him, following Him in that way, and more about walking like Him in the very fabric of my being and demonstrated by my attitudes, actions, and affections.
As the pastor shared the meditation he had prepared, he spoke of what it means to remove the leaven in our lives as well as what leaven signified. The yeast in leavened bread decays causing it to rise and symbolizes my sin.
Lent is a time to examine my heart for evidences of sin, to quiet myself during this season and repent so that the leaven is removed once more by the sacrifice of His death on the cross.
Certainly, I (and likely you) can identify specific places where sin has slipped in, but the pastor encouraged me and all of us present to look deeper and remember “Peas Are Green and Little”.
He used the sentence to imprint our minds with the seven deadly sins that so easily can slip into our lives unacknowledged too often. He spoke also of the significance of listing pride first since it holds so much power in each of our lives in obvious as well as subtle ways.
Peas Are Green and Little:
I can be tempted at first glance to dismiss the thought that I have fallen prey to any of these seven deadly sins, but that in itself exposes pride.
Would it be possible during this Lenten season to seek the Lord for humility to erase pride, contentment to erase envy, gentleness to erase anger, serving to replace slothfulness, giving to replace avarice, fasting to combat gluttony, and purity to knock out lasciviousness? Impossible? No, not impossible because of the cross, but also not possible without my recognition of those things that are present as well as my repentance for them.
As I walked forward to take the unleavened bread and the cup, I sensed the Lord affirming the need to sacrifice and deal with “Peas (that) Are Green and Little” rather than some material thing that could dull my senses about what the real issues are that need to be put to death and sacrificed.