Tonight begins our Zoom discussion group of the Lenten devotional, Full to the Brim. Books are available in the back of the sanctuary and can be mailed or emailed upon request. I look forward to discussing the art, readings, poems and commentary for Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday in Lent when we are together. We’ll begin at 7:00 pm.
The art-based series calls us to an expansive look at Lent and life. The vivid images and colors contrast with what we typically know of Lent: sackcloth and ashes, austerity, barrenness. Surely a traditional Lent may seem more in order given world events or in keeping with the state of our hearts after these last years.
And yet. I’m ever mindful of the principle my Hebrew Bible professor gave us for deciphering the texts of the prophets. You could tell how things were going for the people Israel by the prophets’ message. If the language was fire and brimstone, it’s because it was business as usual. It was in peacetime, when the rich were getting richer on the backs of the poor, when less attention was payed to “right” worship, when foreign threats were denied or absent, that the prophets screamed, “WAKE UP! Can’t you see things are not as right as you think they are?” But when desolation, alienation, exile and defeat were everywhere, then came the words of comfort and the gestures of future hope, like Jeremiah buying a field in the homeland before entering exile.
So it is in our day and with this series. It may seem on the one hand irresponsible to spend time contemplating art and poetry when the world is on fire. But it is when the world burns that our hearts and souls need the strength and resilience to face the fire. It is then that the prophet cries, “all who are thirsty, come to the waters!”
For some of us, art, poetry, and contemplation are a clear path to those waters. For others of us, it’s showing up in solidarity, or moving quickly to meet material needs, as missions recently did for the Department of Children and Families when they were low on supplies. Sometimes it’s more difficult to discern where the channels of refreshment lie, and so our best bet is to draw close to those who seem to have found one.
Whatever journey we’re on this Lent, I pray that it will lead—eventually—to the waters, to the wells we are told will not run dry. If we are not full these days, may we still believe in fullness, and may that belief guide us back to our Source.