From Alex’s Study
The month of March this year is covered fully by the Season of Lent. Presbyterians have not always celebrated Lent. John Calvin, the 16th century Swiss reformer remained dubious of anything that smacked of Roman Catholic tradition or practice. But Calvin would have been in favor of life and practices that deepened faith, encouraged discipleship, promoted prayer, piety, and God’s work in the world.
In this space as we move into Lent, I offer some reflections from scholars and spiritual writers whose pieces have encouraged my faith and practice.
Here is a comment from Henri J. M. Nouwen:
There is no such thing as the right place, the right job, the right calling or ministry. I can be happy or unhappy in all situations. I am sure of it, because I have been. I have felt distraught and joyful in situations of abundance as well as poverty, in situations of popularity and anonymity, in situations of success and failure. The difference was never based on the situation itself, but always on my state of mind and heart. When I knew I was walking with God, I always felt happy and at peace. When I was entangled in my own complaints and emotional needs, I always felt restless and divided.
This season of Lent, we seek to walk with God.
Ruth Land, another spiritual writer, says this:
You can look everywhere for peace, but you may not find it. Or you can forget yourself and get on with whatever work is there in front of you. That’s what brings peace – doing whatever needs to be done in the house, showing love to your spouse, or whatever else comes to mind. If you do it for the sake of the kingdom, it will bring you peace.
This Season of Lent, we seek to walk and serve in the ways of peace.
Alice von Hildebrand wrote a book called Rich in Years:
I ride on the subway and look at the faces: boredom, despair, sadness. This, in the richest country in the world! But the moment that you relate to God – and thank him for your existence, for loving you, for being your Savior – you can establish a most beautiful relationship with other people. You love and help one another. You realize the meaning of your life is not luxury and fun, but it is helping. Once you radiate joy, sooner or later people are going to say, “What’s her secret?” And then gently, without preaching, without saying “I’m superior to you,” you just share. After all, the meaning of the word “gospel” is “the happy message.” That’s all we can do. Obviously there are moments of darkness and discouragement. There are moments when we lose sight of the beauty of the sky because there are clouds. But one very fine day you come out of it. We are made for joy. Don’t expect Paradise on this earth. But there is meaning, and this meaning is the love of God.
This Season of Lent, may we discover the joy and love of God.