What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why I'm Giving up Sermons (and Taking Up Air-Drumming) For Lent

So I didn't grow up with the whole Lent thing. And the way that I've often heard people talk about it has made me rather un-inclined to participate: "oh, crap, tomorrow's Lent and I've got to figure out something to give up" has not been particularly appealing.

But I think I've stumbled across something this week (a couple days late, I know, forgive me o Lenten professionals) that fits the proverbial Lenten bill.

Last year when I was on sabbatical, I came face-to-face with one of my addictions: efficiency merged with competency merged with productivity. I have a strong inner drive to maximize my time, to always be doing something that is useful, productive, and/or helping me get better at something.

One way that this plays out is in how I use car time. I listen to sermon podcasts. I don't do this for personal growth, although that certainly happens.

I listen to speakers that I think I can learn something from in terms of how they do it. I'm listening to increase my competence at doing something that I think I do pretty well and want to push myself to get better and better at.

This is all well and good...except for when it tips over into a striving, grasping, driven-ness. When I begin to imagine that the impact that my speaking has is all about my competency and my ability rather than the power of the Holy Spirit or the gospel itself being the power.

So I'm giving up sermons for Lent. Rather than trying to find significance in striving to become omni-competent in speaking, I'm going to trust in the Lord to be my shelter and my identity. I'm going to rest in his goodness to take care of me and my gifts rather than imagining it's all about me and my gifts in operation somehow apart from him.

In this I was greatly affirmed three days after deciding upon it as I continue the slowest ever pilgrimage through 1 Corinthians 1. Paul says: "we did not come to you with eloquent wisdom so that the cross might not be emptied of its power." I could not have picked a more perfect verse to help me engage with this fast.

I have a lot of thinking to do about that verse and how it applies (or doesn't apply) to the development of a speaking gift. But for now the call is clear: to repent of my trusting in my own ability in order that the cross not be robbed of its' power, either in my life or in my speaking.

I'm taking the time in the car to either worship (I listened to music in the car on Thursday for the first time in over a year and it was fantastic--good to see that my old air-drumming skills are still intact) or pray.

Obviously this isn't the route for everyone--maybe you need to give up music in the car to listen to podcasts! But for this Lenten neophyte, I think that I've stumbled upon the core principle and invitation of Lent: to give up the things that we turn to for strength and affirmation apart from Christ.

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