Lent is a sweet anticipated season for me. Each year, I remember the image of coming home to the warm embrace of the Prodigal Father, eagerly awaiting my return. Dallas Willard describes repentance, central to the season of Lent, as a time to reconsider a strategy for living in light of the reality that the Kingdom of God is available to us now in relationship with Jesus.
George Hopkins, a dear friend and pastor of Gallery Church SoWeBo, led Coracle Baltimore’s lenten retreat this past Saturday. George reminded us that Lent is a season of opportunity to taste what it means to be full by fulfilling the will of God, and what it means to give up one thing in order to gain something greater — “I have food to eat that you know nothing about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:32, 34) One of the purposes of the fasting that is associated with Lent is making room for more of God. At the retreat, we practiced creating space in our lives to be present to God, and marveled at the story of the woman at the well in John 4. Avoidance, prejudice, and shame were all working to keep this precious woman from the Messiah, isolated in her pain and brokenness. George reminded us of how we can be both the victims and the perpetrators of prejudice and I was struck by how that very prejudice fuels my own isolation and shame.
Jesus saw a woman who shared the weight of glory of all who bear His image. He engaged her lovingly and she was transformed. She left her water jar and her shame at the well and ran to tell the very townspeople that she had avoided that she had met a man who told her everything she had done in such a way that she was drawn to share this glorious news with everyone she knew. They came and discovered that Jesus was indeed the Savior of the world and that the world included them, too. Through the overflow of this woman’s encounter with Jesus, an entire town was transformed and the disciples witnessed the joy and satisfaction of joining Jesus in completing the work that His Father had sent Him to do.
I pray that this Lent will be a time to profoundly encounter the transforming love of Jesus, culminating in His triumph through suffering and sacrifice; that shame and prejudice be eclipsed by a love that compels to engage and embrace those around us; and that we would all experience the joy of joining Jesus in completing the work for which we were created.