It seems to me that Lent goes by way too fast. I know full well that the word Lento means “to go by slowly,” as in a piece of music; if the directions say “lento,” you play it slowly.
So here we are already at the 4th Sunday in Lent, traditionally known as Refreshment Sunday. From a practical standpoint, the remainder of Lent will be spent looking forward to planning our Bishop’s visitation on Palm Sunday and the services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. And well might I ask, where is the time to pray your way through Lent?
There is that time, of course; but it seems that the time gets slurped up with meetings and others’ urgencies that leave little time for prayer.
Have we come to the point that prayer is a luxury, not a necessity?
Well, this week’s Gospel is the parable of the Prodigal Son, a story well-known to most of us and well-beloved by most of us. It reminds me of a poem (I think it was Robert Frost’s “Death of the Hired Man”), in which Warren the farmer is having a discussion with his wife Mary about what to do with the hired man (Silas), who is obviously ill. Warren’s reaction is that it would be just like Silas to show up and do a thing like this, and saddle the couple with the final arrangements and expenses. His wife Mary points out a far gentler reality. In his pragmatism, Warren suggests that home is little more than a place to hang your hat; Mary responds to the effect that home is where they take you in, and that home is where the heart is.
The strength and the beauty of the parable of the prodigal son is the reminder that the Church– and the Episcopal Church in particular– is the place where they to take you in, and where the love of God is made known and shared.
We live out that vocation best when we recognize and celebrate how we are forgiven… When we have that before our eyes, it makes it more readily possible for us to make God’s welcome and forgiveness known to others.
How easily we can forget that the real reason that we come here is not because we are perfect, but because we are imperfect. One beauty of Lent is that is reminds us of our imperfections– so that we may celebrate the generosity of God.
3/14/2010 (Lent 4)