From Lent a couple years ago. Wow, nothing like throwing up all my own frustrations all over the congregation.
It is the third Sunday of lent, and my intention was to deliver a nice little homily on lent and what we get out of our forty days in the desert. Then the week happened. And I didn’t really realize it was happening until I started thinking out this message.
First, yet another observation while watching Glee. For one of the gayest shows on TV – Glee regularly shows Christians as concerned, thoughtful caring people. What happened on the show this week was a student tried to kill himself because of who he is – gay – and the grief that he receives from other students because of it. And then the small Christian community on the show rallies around him. Of course this kind of thing makes me think of some of my students, past and present, and the crap they have to take for who they are–gay, poor, outsiders.
Also this week there’s been all the the Kony stuff on Facebook that resulted in a brief discussion in one of my classes about Kony, who if you don’t know, is apparently responsible for the enslavement of tens of thousands of African children. “Why don’t we go after him?” one of my students asked. “Because,” I proposed, “his victims are black, African, and children. Not a big voting block in this country. ”
Earlier this week I listened to an interview with a man who works in an organization called Love 146. They work to make dents in the global sex slave industry, the annual revenues of which come in at between 12 and 32-billion dollars a year. It didn’t take much of listening to his experience to make me want to throw up, and then hurt a lot of people, really hurt them. And this guy has adopted several kids, and would like to adopt more. I don’t know a lot about this guy, but it seems clear according to Matthew that Jesus would call him brother.
And so I think about all these kids–the outsiders at Adrian high school, and at all the other high schools across the country; the children in Africa who have watched their parents murdered and have been forced into military service; and the hundreds of thousands of children suffering sexual exploitation in the world. And I want to talk about my lent? About my forty days? I’ve given up drink and taken on reading a bit of Matthew in the mornings. Rough, huh?
I don’t know what I’m going to do with all this stuff that’s come at me this week. I don’t know how or if it will change me. I sort of wish it would. I sort of hope it doesn’t. I wonder what the disciples thought about after watching or hearing about Jesus being crucified? Did they get that he was showing them how to love completely. Not by making occasional small symbolic sacrifices, but by giving up everything, by forgiving his killers and praying for his enemies, and showing the way for everyone, not just the chosen, the fortunate, the powerful?
So I will continue to observe Lent in my small way in order to remind myself daily what Jesus means to me. But this morning as we remember his life and death and resurrection, let’s encourage one another to follow Jesus. And I don’t mean following all our little rules. I mean to walk in his steps, to go where he went, to die to ourselves, and to love who he loved, to love how he loved, every day, the best we can.