We watched a wonderful film last week called, "The Great Seduction."
It's about a small Canadian fishing village that isn't allowed to fish anymore so the people get government checks each month to survive. It's demoralizing. There is a distant hope, however, in their bid to bring a factory to the harbor town, but it comes with conditions. One is that they secure a full-time physician to practice in the community.
So, the very quirky townsfolk find their mark and turn the town upside down to please the young doctor. He loves Cricket, so they all pretend to play Cricket. They listen to his phone calls and tailor each day to his personal wishes. The local eatery just happens to serve his favorite Indian dish. They even leave money on the dock each day in increasing denominations because "everybody loves to find money." I hope you'll watch the film so I won't tell you any more than a preview would offer. (I hate spoilers!) But this film is all about the little things that mean so much and the power of community.
I want to invite you to a Holy Lent filled with little things that mean so much. I encourage us all to pay attention to the hope we feel as we are marked with the Sign of the Cross. Pay attention to shifts in tone in our common worship, the colors, the sparse environment, the invitation to enter the wilderness. Savor the silence we can carve out in our busy days. Is there a Lenten book you've read and reread because it takes you someplace deep? Read it again with gratitude.
For leaders in the Church it can be challenging to engage the riches of the season. It's also critically important that we do. The life of our congregations is made more vibrant by the individual commitment to prayer, fasting and good works. These practices have never let us down and they are not ends in themselves. Whatever leads us toward self-giving love is good. Anything else is a distraction.
So, what are the little things that help sustain your friendship with God? Do those things. Love those things. Thank God for leading you to those things.
The pain of the world is too much for us. What little thing can you do to reduce suffering? How can the power of community meet human need with love?
Fasting is always the hardest one for me. I ask myself not what I must fast from, but rather what my fasting is for. Fasting for the living earth feels right, but this is deeply personal for each of us.
Clergy colleagues and lay leaders, enter the wilderness of Lent in peace and trust that you will find your way home. We serve a God who loves to find what has been lost.
While I don't have my Lent all figured out yet, I've decided to place a $5 bill on the sidewalk tomorrow morning because "everybody loves finding money," and it's the little things we do faithfully that move this creation - hurting and groaning and straining - to become God's dream.