I was a new, young pastor participating in the “First Parish Project,” a Lily Foundation program. The idea was to bring young, new pastors together across denominational and geographic boundaries. From New York, Illinois, Oregon and California and other far off places we made our weary way to a retreat center in western North Carolina. In our opening session the convener gave the most beautiful invitation, “This week is for you. Find what you need. If you need rest, go take a nap. If you need peace, go sit on the porch in the rocking chairs and stair at the mountains and the lake. Go for a walk. Join us for worship. Sit in on the sessions. This time is for you.”
It’s not a bad image for the season of Lent. What if instead of focusing on what we’re going to give up, how we’re going to suffer, we instead thought deeply and intentionally about what we need as disciples of Jesus? Are you tired, worn out? Are you lost and directionless? Are you heartsick and grief stricken? Are you comfortable? What do you need to follow Jesus faithfully: energy, courage, discernment, wisdom, faith, compassion, and on and on?
What if instead of rushing around trying to prove our goodness or faithfulness, we simply sat for awhile with Jesus? Imagine, giving yourself the gift of ten precious minutes each day, to sit in the presence of the Holy, and consider together what it means to follow. This Sunday, we’ll kick off the season of Lent not with the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, but rather an invitation from Jesus, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”
I’ll see you on Sunday,