Thursday, April 5, 2007

High hopes

It occurs to me that for many of us, the season of Lent is one of unrealistic expectations. We come to Lent making resolutions to give up something that we know we need to give up anyway: sweets, soda, french fries. We sort of treat this holy time as an opportunity to jump-start our diets and exercise programs, and assume that somehow God will sanction these efforts because it is, after all, a season of sacrifice. But all we're really doing is making Lent about us, what we want God to do for us.
These last few days, I've come to see Lent as something a little different. From my perspective here on the couch with my knees elevated, hoping each day for a little more mobility and a little less pain, I realize how selfish we can sometimes be in how we deal with Lent. Eric pointed out Sunday in his sermon that taking up our crosses may be the sacrifice we make so that someone else may benefit. I don't know who's benefiting from my failed efforts to give up fried potatoes--it's certainly not me (those "failed" efforts I mentioned above).
Since Sunday night, I've been forced to be very conservative in my expectations of myself. Monday, I couldn't even get up without help--which meant that in the middle of the night, I would call Ben on my cell phone to wake him up when I needed help. Tuesday, I could negotiate my way from the couch using Ben's cane and the wall to keep me from falling. Yesterday, I took a shower--o, blessed event--an act not to be underestimated when you can't move without pain.
Today's expectation is a little bigger, and maybe a little less realistic: I want to go to church tonight. It's Maundy Thursday and I have missed the church and my office and all the busy-ness of Holy Week. I didn't preach Sunday night and had to renege on an invite to preach a Lenten service Tuesday and to speak to a class about Easter today. I don't know that I'll have any role in tonight's service other than as a member of the congregation: I'm not ready to climb stairs, which keeps me out of the chancel area, and I'm not going to be able to serve communion--too much standing and leaning forward. But I want to go, to be there with the friends and church family that has sacrificed their time for me in prayer and phone calls and cards and meals so that I might benefit from what they give up.
So I'll try, and tomorrow I'll post an update on how I do.

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