“What I Am Not Giving Up for Lent” (1)

This will be on the “Back Page” of the bulletin of Fishkill UMC for this coming Sunday, March 10, 2019, the 1st Sunday in Lent (Year C)

And the Preacher wrote, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”  Our primary purpose for Lenten season is to prepare for Easter and the Resurrection.  Typically, this preparation includes giving something up, as a sign of sacrifice and repentance.

But I want to focus on what I am not giving up for Lent this year.  As much as I am tempted to do so, I am not giving up on the United Methodist Church and I am certainly not giving up my faith.

There was, as you may know, a time when I would have done just that.  Like Isaiah, I saw a world in chaos and trouble and a church which was more of a contributor to the chaos and the problems than a solver and a healer.  And as much I wish it were different today, the church still seeks to divide and exclude rather than bring everyone to Christ.

It seems that many people find their security in demeaning the worth and value of others.  But when we do that, we demean our own worth as well.  And the church, or its public persona, is complicit in this act.

As a United Methodist, our faith is based on the Wesleyan quadrilateral of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.  If we take any of these out of the equation, our faith will collapse. 

Through reason the individual Christian brings to bear on the Christian faith discerning and cogent thought.  Through reason, we can begin to understand what is written and, perhaps just as important, what is not written in the Scriptures.

If we do not use the power of reason as a part of our faith, we cannot understand what Jesus meant to the people two thousand years ago nor what he means to the people today.  Without the power of reason, we will find it impossible to reach for the future.

So, I am not giving up my faith or my church for Lent.  I will use the gift of reason that God gave me to find solutions, to work against fear and ignorance, to bring justice and righteousness to a world crying out in pain.         ~~ Tony Mitchell