It’s Spring! I almost dread the songbirds and warming days, the harbingers of blooming flowers and also spring cleaning. How in the soft light of spring does the dust and detritus of winter stick out like a sore thumb? I need to swap out winter clothes for summer, sweep the garage of road salt, and cleanup the yard. It’s that time of year. It’s also that time of year for a spiritual cleanup, too.
At the heart of the Communion liturgy during the season of Lent, at the highest holy moment in the worship service, just before we pray the Lord’s prayer, just before we eat and drink the heavenly meal, the pastor chants: You call your people to cleanse their hearts and prepare with joy for the paschal feast. In this Lenten time, God is calling us to do two things: cleanse our hearts and prepare with joy.
For me, cleaning up after someone feels so different than cleaning up for someone. That’s preparing with joy. No matter how upbeat the music, pleasant the company, or satisfying a job well done is, cleaning is always work…unless we are excited about what is coming after the hard work. If we are looking forward to what we are preparing for, the work flies by.
As much as I hate cleaning up after someone else, sometimes cleaning up after myself is harder. God calls us to cleanse our hearts which means an inner searching and an outer change. What patterns of behavior do I cling to? How do I harm others with my words or actions? Am I living in fulness of life?
These are hard questions with answers that demand a lot of us. In becoming what God is calling us to be, though, we experience greater fulfillment than we could scrape together for ourselves. Knowing the thriving, abundant life that God has waiting for us when we follow the Spirit, however, can make the journey of answering that call doable, maybe even enjoyable.
Last Sunday I asked the congregation to reflect on what King of Glory, as a community, might repent. In other words, I invited us to do that inner searching God is asking of us. Some of the things I heard…
Nothing? One person wrote me about something their group wanted more of. Not one other person spoke to me or wrote to me about the conversation from last Sunday.
King of Glory, as a community, has nothing to repent from? I find that hard to believe. We can repent of the paralyzing notion that what needs to be done is someone else’s responsibility. We can repent of the false belief that growth or youth are God’s call to the church. We can repent of the unhealthy habit of doing what we’ve always done.
King of Glory as a community has much work to do to cleanse our collective heart. We have patterns of behavior we cling to, though they no longer serve the gospel. We harm others, whether we can admit it or not, with our corporate ways. We are not living in the fulness of life God has for us.
We are also called to prepare with joy. Preparing is an active thing. How active are we in our preparation? Preparing is not the same as waiting to see what will happen. Preparing is being forward thinking and doing so when what is coming arrives, we are ready.
As we continue to prepare with joy for the future with hope God has for us, we have put up a new bulletin board by the kitchen and parish hall. In addition to an inner inventory, we are doing an outer inventory, too. At our next Town Hall Meeting, April 7, from 10:30 to 12:00, we will be using a tool called Asset Mapping. After a brief introduction, we will break into small groups in classrooms. Then we will brainstorm and tape onto the wall all the assets God has blessed us with: Physical, Fiscal, People, Institutions, Intangibles, and even Imaginary! Once we’ve taped each asset on the wall individually, we’ll shift gears and begin to cluster the assets in creative ways and see what emerges. I’ll give more instruction at the meeting, or feel free to talk with me about it.
The bulletin board by the kitchen, though, already has a place to begin listing assets. In fact, we’ve already begun listing! The more brainstorming we can do as a community before our meeting, the more time we’ll have for the creative synthesis and for listening for the Spirit. I will collect all the suggestions before our meeting and make slips to tape up for each small group. Please add your suggestions to any of the categories!!
Spring is the time for new things, for new growth, for new life. I see the baby cows in the meadow and the delicate flower blossoms, and I remember spring cleaning isn’t about focusing on what’s broken or wrong, but about making room for what is good and right.