Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Covenant and Discipline

Today is Ash Wednesday, a day on which, among other things, the church invites us to "the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word." Perhaps providentially, today is also the day on which the second draft of the Proposed Anglican Covenant was released. Finally, it is the day after "Super Tuesday" and the media is abuzz with reflections and prognostications about what it all means for our future. It also happens to be just over a month since I last put fingers to keyboard and posted anything on this blog.

As I prepare to say and hear the words "remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" today it strikes me how such words put into perspective all of the issues and conflicts that seem to loom so large in the church and in the world. A century from now, no one now living, except for perhaps a few of the smallest children, will be anything but dust. All of the parties wrangling over church property, all of the political candidates vying for their party's nomination, and all of the bloggers (including me!) with their voluminous writings on this or that--all will be dust. Unless Jesus has returned, there will no doubt be new controversies to replace the old (just as the current controversies are replacing the old ones), new political candidates addressing new problems, and new bloggers (or whatever follows blogs) opining about the issues of the day.

For me, this Lent offers me an opportunity and a challenge not to give up paying attention to such issues, candidates, and opinions, but to place them in the context of a more disciplined life of prayer, study, and action. It is a time when we are all invited to examine our own lives even more minutely than we examine the lives of others, to engage in the time-honored activities of prayer, bodily discipline (fasting), and what might be called "life discipline" (self-denial), and to study the scriptures not as an academic exercise, but with an eye towards deepening our relationship with Christ and seeking out God's will for us as people living and working in the world.
Let the Lent begin!

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