I've grown a little cynical about Lenten devotion. Too often, Lenten disciplines remind me of New Year's Eve resolutionswe all make these pledges, we vaguely gesture toward keeping them, but we know we're never really going to take off those five pounds/join a gym/work weekly at a soup kitchen.
It was with that faint cynicism that I turned to the lectionary for Lent, and as I read through John and Mark and Paul, I realized that I (like Mark's disciples) had missed the point, mistaken what was supposed to be a devotional aid as the end in itself. And thatan end in itselfis the very thing Lent is not. Rather, Lent is a trail, an "in between," a going toward. "Above all," wrote Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann, "Lent is a spiritual journey and its destination is Easter."
So don't pick up the lectionary if you want to devote this Lent to breaking your caffeine addiction. For what the readings come back toover and overis the cross.
I wear a cross around my neck every day, but somehow I had forgotten.
Lauren F. Winner is the author of Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mum's the Word
2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
Characters and dialogue ricochet between the two central readings for Transfiguration Sunday. In 2 Kings we find a wise, devoted Elisha preparing for the death of Elijah. In Jericho a company of prophets asks Elisha if he is aware that the Lord is going to "take Elijah up to heaven" that day. "I do know," says Elisha; "say nothing."