Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beginning the Lenten Journey: Washing the Car!

From the Lenten devotional material I am using:

During my last winter as a resident I began to envision Lent as the process of washing my car after the effects of a long Chicago winter. For those who are unfamiliar with the effects of Midwest winter driving, envision your vehicle covered in layer upon layer of a nasty, salty, wintery film. With each new snow an additional covering of grit clings to your paint job, serving as a constant reminder of the treacheries of the season. It is an affliction that we bore with dutiful commitment to the city we loved, all the while hoping for warmer days.

Now imagine with me what the first mild day in the beginning of March might feel to a winter-weary soul. The snow has temporarily melted and the first glimpses of spring are on their way. In a moment of mild insanity you decide to take a stab at washing your car — beginning to strip away the layers that have been accumulating over the winter months in hopes that something different is on the way. 
The same thing can happen during Lent. Over the year our hearts and minds can become coated with the salt, grime, and dirty snow of life. We can become dulled to the realities of the kingdom and merely trudge through day-to-day existence. Therefore, as we move throughout the year the reflective, repentant nature of Lent could be likened to taking a power washer to the soul. This might not be the typical image used to describe the church year, but perhaps it sheds a little light on what this season is about. As we approach the Easter season we want to strip away what is not of God in order that we might more fully reflect the new creation that was enabled through the work of the cross. We do this through intentional prayer and confession, as well as by taking on various fasts or spiritual disciplines in order that we might realign our priorities and focus on the one to whom we owe everything. 
~ Kelsey Holloway
My car has only been through one snow storm here in Seattle and it was covered in filth,  goo, and, believe or not, raccoon mucous that froze to the top of the trunk for months. My car is painted white, and most of the car shows only white. But the parts with goo and filth need some work.

This is Kelsey's point here... Lent is the time we do work on the parts with goo and filth.

What are our filthy spots smeared on to our souls? 
What are the things we have let sit for far too long on our souls?
  • Maybe it is something someone has done to us, that we need to name, deal with, and forgive.
  • Maybe it is something that we have done to someone else that we feel shame and need forgiveness.
  • Maybe it is something we have done or are doing to ourselves. Some unhealthy action or thought that causes us to be less than we could be, be less than God made us to be.
Also, in my continuing theme to re-center Lent towards more of a communal event, where is the filth coming from in our social, consumer lives? Are there practices, attitudes, and/or behaviors that run our soul through the goo by how we treat others, the environment, people in other countries?

Lent is 40 days - which means we don't have to have the answers today. Let us begin the process of meditation and naming.

One great practice for this week might be to literally wash your car.

O Lord show me where I have come up short and the practices, attitudes, and beliefs where I drag my own soul through the goo. Let me have eyes to see and ears to hear in ways that are unclouded and unhindered. Give me the strength to meditate and name those things which hinder. Help me "...to strip away what is not of God in order that we might more fully reflect the new creation that was enabled through the work of the cross." Amen!

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