Lent of 2009 we were getting ready. After 3 1/2 years in exile since the hurricane, our new building was going up. We were excited and anxious, and somewhere WAY past ready....
So we paused. During Lent, we reflected and we remembered. Then we looked ahead. Our focus during Lent and Holy Week of 2009 was on returning from exile. What is it like, to return? To come back? What's the same? What's different? How are we different?
I had been saying since the storm-that-should-not-be-named, that if the end result was we were the same as we were before, what a shame that would be. We are forever changed, and despite the human tendency to revert, find "normal" again, halt these changes forced upon us, we cannot now, nor ever, deny how we've been shaped by what we've been through. Some of that is good, some not so much. At the core, though, is this sense of incredible gratitude - for we cannot look at our beautiful new buildings without seeing the faces of so many people who came to our aid and who helped make it happen.
Consequently, we are changed by their love, just like we are all changed by God's love. In both cases, it's love that we did not earn or even deserve, yet was and is freely given. With that at our core, how could we ever be the same?
So Lent 2010 is upon us. This year, as I think and pray and plan Lenten sermons and liturgies, the focus may be on home, home in the true sense of warmth, welcome, security, hospitality - now that we are home, how do we fling these doors open, reach out to our community, be much more present in word and deed, and invite, intentionally and ferociously, others in our community to come "home" too, to be with us, to teach us, to join us?
Could be an interesting time. You, too, are invited to the observance of a Holy Lent. I pray you will do so in whatever faith community you find yourself in - wherever you find home.