I have always thought of Lent as a time of self-evaluation, when we take a look at ourselves through the lens of Christian values and ethics. A poem by Robert Nelson Jacobs focuses this process well for me.
I think that we can’t go around measuring
Our goodness by what we don’t do—by
What we deny ourselves, what we resist
And who we exclude. I think we’ve got to
Measure goodness by what we embrace
What we create, and who we include.
Lent is a time to look at what we are doing to accomplish the goals of creating a better world for our family, our community and our lives. Start with your own life. What are you doing for your physical health? An old tradition was to eat no fat during Lent and eat fish every Friday. How about eat no sugar during Lent and eat fish every other day? That’s what my doctor would prescribe. Exercise is good for you, particularly in the winter. How much are you getting?
Lent is a time to embrace the values Jesus talked about. With the righteous and the cursed
(Matthew 25:31 ff) we need to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry…when did we see you naked…when did we see you thirsty….when did we see you sick, and in prison?” And we need to be able to say that we have done it “even unto the least of these” in Benzie County and around the world. We need to be able to honestly pray: “Forgive us…AS WE HAVE FORGIVEN…”
That’s an important part of “including others,” especially those who offend us.
So take the time this Lent to measure yourself by the kind of goodness the Gospel holds before you. And then act on what you have learned.
Rev. Ned Edwards, Author