Lent can be a somewhat dour, sour and gloomy affair at times, don’t you think? It’s like suddenly a few million Christians in the city have sadder demeanours, talk more hush-hush, go out less, and walk with their heads slightly more bowed.
A part of me genuinely ‘prefers’ Christmas. At least during this time, millions of Christians are more cheerful, more inviting, sing more wonderful carols, give gifts, smile more. Even the ‘secular’ shopping malls start playing songs containing the name, Jesus Christ. People are visibly impacted by Christmas, at least a leeeeee-tle bit, right? Christmas rocks the world.
But what about Lent? How can we ‘rock the world’ with Lent?
“(When) Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
Then I (i.e. Christ) said: ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10.5-7)
So it’s not so much about how much time we ‘sacrifice’ in church. It’s not about how much money and talent we ‘offer’ to God in our worship services. It’s about how far we’re willing to go to do the will of God.
How about we dedicate Lent towards loving our enemies? How about we dedicate the month of Lent towards repairing ruined relationships, towards showing extraordinary kindness to those we wouldn’t normally be caught dead even smiling at? How about we set aside Holy Week to risk being rejected by our enemies, by making the first move of gentleness, of forgiveness? Like sending them a card, calling them to ask about their welfare, buying them a gift, asking them out for lunch, giving them a hug, saying sorry for our harsh words, sharing an idea, and so on.
Lent is as good a time as any to the one thing our selfish nature HATES to do: Love those who hate us. Lent, and the story that this season reminds us of, is therefore the best time to launch a counter-attack on our selfish habits. To defeat the focus on self with other-focused love.
It all starts with one Christian showing astonishing, hatred-killing care and giving to one who least expects such glorious love. Then a hundred. Then a few thousand. Until Lent has rocked the world so much it will shake with its own tears. Let the Lenten groove begin.
1. Calm yourself down. Relax. Picture your ‘worst enemy’ in your mind. See this person coming up to you. He/She is getting closer. He/She calls your name in a gentle voice. Then – imagine this! – he/she weeps quietly with shame over the broken relationship, asks for your forgiveness and promises to restore the friendship. Now, picture Jesus embracing the both of you together. What do you think of this picture? How has it made you feel?
2. List down THREE people you know you don’t like. Pray for these people. Put yourself in their shoes, feel their pain, their hurts, their sorrows. Then commit yourself to do ONE ‘extraordinary’ and unexpected act of kindness for them. I promise you your life will change.
(From me: Thanks Alwyn again for the meditations, I’ve delayed in posting the meditations partly because I was pretty much toilet bound yesterday, Kyrie Eleison)