Tuesday, February 5, 2008
My Lenten Discipline
People who follow the church's liturgical calendar are about to enter the season of Lent.
Traditionally, people try to give up some luxury, a normal pleasure or a bad behavior during this season (we usually fail and learn more about what it means to depend upon Christ instead of ourselves.) Alternatively, one can add a discipline during Lent, such as spiritual study (many churches offer a "Lenten Series" for this reason), acts of charity or added times of prayer.
My discipline will be to pray over Amos 7:2 -
When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,‘O Lord God, forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!’
God sent a locust plague on Israel because of national corruption. The rich trampled on the poor, justice was partial and corrupt, and people dabbled in all kinds of false religion instead being true to the One God.
The prophet Amos interceded for the people. Seeing the destruction worked by the locusts, Amos worried that God's people would be annihilated. They (The ancestral name Jacob, like Israel, stands for the whole nation) were too small to withstand God-sized punishment.
The verse has been nagging at me for weeks. I've been more aware than usual of my own distance from God in attitudes and behaviors. My own inflated sense of self is giving way to the realization of how small I am in the scheme of things. Personally, the last few years have seen difficulties multiply and some familiar joys disappear. And beyond my personal challenges, The Episcopal Church is wretched beyond description - and the act of describing it only makes things more toxic.
Somehow, this verse speaks to all that mess. Not sure how, exactly, which is why my intention is to spend Lent with Amos 7:2 in a couple of ways:
Recollection: When I find myself anxious, angry or otherwise revved up, I will call this verse to mind and repeat it to myself.
Contemplation: I will set aside quiet time and space to read this verse, be still and give God my best attention, so He can show me what he wants in these words.
May your Lent be a holy season. May you find the compassion, mercy and help of Christ close at hand.