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The 40 days of Lent do not include the Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Sunday is always a day celebrating the Resurrection. However, for consistency in your daily meditations, we have included meditations for each Sunday during Lent.
It is symptomatic of our human nature, in general, and our American culture, in particular, that we seek to surround ourselves with a superabundance of material comforts. I need hardly bother to make this point heard above the deafening roar of Madison Avenue which shouts it every day. There are creams (and surgery) that make us look younger and cars that make us look wealthier. There are houses that make us feel powerful and technology that makes us feel smarter. There are trifles and curios without number to clutter our cabinets and speak well of our good taste, and there are shopping malls and mail order houses without end to store and sell them. There are clubs and societies and schools and churches that make us feel well-connected and well-bred. When we set our hearts and trust in these places the Bible states that we're well on our way to enslavement. It's not so much a struggle against want (like Scarlet O'Hara screaming out, "As God as my witness, I'll never be hungry again.") but a pledge of fealty to the things of this world.
It's during the season of Lent that we are well-reminded of real purpose in life and that following Christ is much better than chasing after self-absorption. It is during Lent that we are reminded of God's self-offering love, that it's better to give than to receive. We are brought to mind of our finite nature, and that each of us has a whole set of foibles, sins and mistakes for which we can seek pardon and restoration. And we are reminded that a growing number of people in this country have simple homes (or none at all) not palaces, sparse supper tables not banquet dining tables, furnishings that come from second-hand stores rather than from dowries. If we can hear this Lent the voice of Mr. Lincoln's "better angels," we can step away from the clutter of our own hearts and the stuff around us and take a journey of introspection, rediscovery, renewal and resolve.
The theme for this season at Saint Michael and All Angels is "compassion" -- to have "passionate mercy for and with others." If we truly take on a newfound level of compassion for the people for whom Christ died, then our sackcloth and ashes of the season can issue forth in breaking out the best wine and shouting "alleluia" come Easter. If this journey is to have sticking power, it won't be a temporary journey for forty days, but will become a life-pattern, a life-long spiritual discipline of offering Christ's compassion each and every day.
I invite you to take some time each day to read and savor the writings in this Lenten daily devotional series. And I offer my gratitude to those who lovingly penned them.
Have a holy and compassionate Lent, my friends.
Robert S. Dannals