The liturgical calendar and the seasons of the Church year exist to restructure our understanding of time. In this way, we Christians know that today isn’t just another week in March, but the fourth week in Lent. With our understanding of time redefined, the Church comes to see the world through God’s sense of time. The rhythms of the Christian year invite us into the eternal and ongoing story of our salvation.
The last few weeks have disoriented my sense of time. Our lives have been changed by a Coronavirus pandemic in no time at all. What a few weeks ago was a problem for folks on the other side of the world has quickly become a new global reality. In an attempt to slow the spread of this disease, we have now come to reorganize our lives and restructure the way we spend our time. With schools closed, work canceled, and more folks telecommuting than ever before, the way our time is spent has changed substantially. Does anyone else feel like they can barely recognize themselves with their routine so thrown out of whack?
During the season of Lent, Christians take on spiritual disciplines and fast from things that distract us from God. By ‘giving up’ something for Lent, believers hope to quiet their minds and open their hearts to receive the ways that God’s Holy Spirit is communicating to us. By fasting from our vices, Christians seek to carve out some time and thus become aware of God’s timing for our life.
In Pastor Michelle’s sermon this week, she mentioned that this Lent it feels like more has been taken from us than actually given up! Did anyone give up Netflix or take out food for Lent this year? If so, how is that going for you? However, if for some reason you gave up toilet paper, this is the Lent for you! During this time of social distancing, working from home, and self-quarantine, it seems like many of us have ‘given up’ everything that resembles our normal life and routine.
Although God never ordains the tragedy of disease and pandemic, our God can work with anything to bring redemption and new life. Perhaps social distance was just what we needed to become more faithful Lenten people. Maybe this year more than ever we can identify with the hunger and thirst of Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness. As this season takes its toll on us we will be made ready for the resurrection that God will bring through Easter.
You see, the liturgical calendar gives us a sense of time that goes deeper than our concerns and anxieties. Being connected with the eternal and cyclical nature of God’s time grounds us in something that is larger than ourselves. Instead of defining our self and our worth in relation to how we spend our time, Lent reminds us that our worth is determined by something that is completely out of our control – God’s love for us.
I pray that during this season we would give up saving, wasting, or spending time and thus find ourselves living on God’s time. Amen