May you have a Shameless Lent
This sermon was preached on February 21, 2021. You can watch the sermon (and the entire Holden Evening Prayer service) on the video below. To find out how you can join us live, click "Events & Gatherings" above to learn how.
Today is the First Sunday in Lent.
Lent began on Wednesday, when we had, quite possibly, the most emo service in the history of this ministry…truly, if you missed it I invite to check it out after this service. It is a beauty! This was a service that reminds us of the finiteness of our lives and of the world.
And today, we have the first Sunday in Lent. In many churches, both Lutheran and Episcopal, today you have the decalogue read. This is a way of liturgically reading the 10 commandments. A way for us to remember our ancient covenant with God to follow the rules. A reminder that even though we now live daily in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, there are still these basic rules that we know if we follow we will live a better life, a more full life, a more more like God would want for us. And so today, in many places, you hear them.
And yet, we are not doing that tonight, no, tonight we are praying this beautiful service called Holden Evening Prayer. We will be praying this every Sunday in Lent.
Do know that I am not saying its a bad thing to read the decalogue, but I was reading the Arizona Republic a few days ago, and came across this article (as you can read here) where our Episcopal Bishop was interviewed. Bishop Reddall talked about how Ash Wednesday would “'definitely land differently this year for everybody', but she also said that in some ways Ash Wednesday this year is a continuation of a metaphorical Lenten Season that has continued through the pandemic. She said, 'I think this year, the invitation is less about giving up things, because people have already given up many, many things. I think the invitation this year is to that inward reflection and recognition that we are reliant upon God. We don’t have the strength to get through this on our own. Usually, Ash Wednesday is this really powerful reminder of our mortality, and again, I feel like we’ve been reminded of our mortality for the last 11 months, so that message instead of being something that stands out against the rest of the year, is something that is very much contiguous. I think for many of us right now, the Easter hope we are wanting is restoration to community, and to health and restoration to daily life for people, which isn’t going to happen in the timeline of Easter 2021, but I think we are getting to see a glimpse of hope with the vaccine. There’s this sense that this will end, Lent will end, this Lent we’ve been experiencing for the last 11 months does have an end coming.'"
I don’t decry a normal lenten observance. I think us having a moment, like on this past Wednesday, is important as well. I think that although we’ve been living this 11 month lent, as the bishop mentioned, we have also actually been working too hard to keep up hope and joy sometimes, when we really do need to take that necessary time to lament about the loss we have. This 11 month lent has been all about loss..and it has hurt…bad…it has hurt members of our community here tonight, and countless others across the globe. And, I think Ash Wednesday, and our very emo service, serves that well.
But, I do think that this Lent perhaps we should look at something else. That we should not only look at the sinful nature of being humans, but the hope and salvation that comes anyways. You know: The hope for the hopeless, the Light that Darkness cannot overpower.
This lent, we will be reading a book on Tuesday nights called Shameless. This book talks about specifically the sexual shame that so many people feel because, quite frankly, the church tells them to. A shame that is not from God at all. We are going to be talking about what it means to not live a life of shame, but to live a shameless life for God. (If you haven’t signed up for this bookclub yet and want to, again, go to www.lcmcanterbury.org and click on events to get the information you need!)
This Lent, my prayer is that you will find yourselves having a shameless lent. God doesn’t need our shame. No. On the contrary, what God delights in the most is when we stand up and are proud of who we are and who’s we are. God delights in watching us live out our lives as genuinely and authentically as we possibly can.
And god knows that life many times sucks. So, God also reminds us that God is the hope for the hopeless. That we do feel hopeless, but that we should not be ashamed of that…because the hopeless is who Jesus came to save.
Bishop Curry has been quoted as talking about how Jesus came to turn the world upside down, which might actually be right-side up after all. I believe this with everything of my being. I believe that Jesus is here with us today, to lift up the lowly, to wipe away our tears. Jesus can’t make our lives great…but he can sit with us as we go through them, and remind us that we are never alone.
You are never alone.
May you have a Shameless Lent.
Since 2013, Brad Eubanks has served as a chaplain on the campus of Northern Arizona University. To learn more and get in contact with them, visit the Leadership page of this website.
Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-725726.