A friend on Facebook asked if anyone who was giving up something for Lent went to church. I think that is a valid question. There were many wonderful responses, some funny and some faith-filled. I wanted to share mine without invading other people's privacy by posting a snapshot of the Facebook conversation. Here is my response:
People...People...People...you are loved, no matter what. That is the beautiful thing of life and the most distorted thing about the church because Love has been attached to guilt, fear, and shame.
Lent is a time to reflect on your life to prepare your heart for the Easter event, it is not a time to beat yourself up or give up something you love. It is a time to work on something that will make you and society a better heaven than a living hell. (For example, I am fasting from unkind judgment AND feasting on gracious acceptance.)
The church is suppose to be there to help guide you in this journey; to bring you in closer communication with your God...in a loving and safe community. Church should be seen as a human gas station where we can be filled with hope, and love, and wisdom, and especially peace knowing that we are Loved, we are Forgiven, and we are Blessed...No Matter What.
In a world where people are constantly driven by self-centeredness, and where greed and violence and fear towards others is the norm, our human spirit takes a beating. Let's be real, it gets harder and harder for us to "do the right thing" and build up any karma points when we are beaten down or made to feel less than who we truly are...God's Beloved children.
The Church is supposed to help replenish your kindness towards others to help make the world a more just and peaceful place; especially for those who have been marginalized and pushed away from society (and from church). Far too often the Church has failed us.
The good news is your karma is not needed, but the good works you do are simply desired as a means to stay in constant communication with your God and to make the world (even your small part of it) a better heaven, or nirvana. It is in this communication with God, this walk in the journey of life, that we come to realize the gift of the Easter event.
Lent is a celebration where we make a conscious decision to make the world a better place than it was the day before simply because you are better than you were the day before. There is a Native American tribe who begins their morning prayers like this: "Gracious Spirit, I thank you for my first breath this morning knowing all other breaths I take today are mine to take. Guide me to use each breath wisely."
I hope that each breath you take during Lent will be filled with the heartbeat of God who loves every beloved child, No Matter What.