We are invited to repent [to turn around, to change our hearts and our minds, to come home] for the kingdom of heaven is near. These are the postures of repentance and Lent. These are the postures of death and of birthing. These are the postures of transformation. These are the postures of surrender.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the humble and meek. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing good. For they will receive a taste of heaven here on earth.
This is counter to everything we crave as humans. Success. Wealth. Status. Gratification. Independence. Control. We do not like to be poor, to be weak, or to be lowly. We often disdain our hunger and our need. We do not enjoy suffering, mistreatment or betrayal. In fact, so much of our human experience is trying to prove ourselves. Trying to prove that we're strong, invincible, knowledgeable, or in control or at the very least NOT WEAK...
And yet Jesus invites us to weakness.
The season of Lent invites us to surrender.
But it is a different kind of surrender -- not to a foe but to LOVE.
"Perhaps the word "surrender" should be enough for my prayer... Not the surrender of submission to an enemy, but the opposite, the laying down of resistance to the One who loves me infinitely more than I can guess, the One who is more on my side that I am myself. Dwelling on this thought of letting go, and handing myself over to the Spirit will bring me much closer to the experience of Jesus than the word 'discipline' which so many of us have been trained to invoke at the beginning of Lent. It should help us smile at our anxious attempts to bring our life under control, the belt tightening resolutions about giving up this or taking on that. What we are called to give up in Lent is control itself!" -Martin L. Smith, A Season for the Spirit
What we are called to give up in Lent is control itself.
Powerful words and a powerful invitation as we begin the Lenten season. An invitation to die, to let go, to surrender.
And so I will leave you with two reflections this week. One of my own and the powerful litany this week from Fran Pratt.
My prayer is that you can begin to experience heaven here on earth as you find new postures of surrender and weakness.
by Jessica Ketola
All transformation requires a death, a loss of what has been, a letting go. This is not easy work. This is not comfortable work. This is neither for the faint of heart or the indifferent. Rather, it requires a daring tenacity and a robust faith. A willingness to risk and to fail and to iterate.
And yet death comes before life. The seed dies before the new tender shoot emerges from the earth. This is the way of Lent. This is the way of the cross. This is the way of birthing. This is the way of dying.
This is where the mystery of the tomb coalesces with the miracle of the womb.
And so, what is it that we need to surrender? What is it that needs to die? What is it that we need to let go of? And as we journey together with community fasting and prayer, what collectively is it that we need to give up?
Is it our comfort? Our need for success? The ways in which we want what we want when we want it? Our individualism and our independence?
Is it our reluctance to commit or to be inconvenienced? Our prejudices? Our resentments? Our fear? Our jealousies? Our insecurities? Our wounds? Our self-hate?
Or is it our need to please others? Our need to be validated? Our need to be important? Our security? Our need for control? Our power? Our privilege? Our possessions?
What is it that needs to die?
Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. So the saying goes. But Jesus promises us that as we lose the striving and scarcity of our own small lives, we will enter the expansiveness of His full and abundant life. [Matthew 16:25] That as we enter the paradox of the tomb, of death, surrender, and letting go, that in time from the womb of our deepest desires, new life will emerge.
Spend time this week reflecting on the invitation to surrender. Listen for the Spirit to speak to you afresh.