Creating Margins for Lent
In the traditional liturgy of the church, Lent is a 40 day period of fasting leading from Ash Wednesday (tomorrow!) up to Easter Eve, excluding Sundays. No, people don’t abstain from food entirely! Instead, people usually give up something, like chocolate, to signify a break from dependence on things and renew their dedication to God.
This year, instead of giving up something, how about creating something. The thing I would like to challenge us all to create is — margin.
A margin is very simply the space found at the edge. Spiritual margins are intentional periods of time that we redeem from our normal daily routine in order to generate a healthy spiritual rhythm in our lives. They can often be room that we leave intentionally for God at the edges of our day.
I suggest that we begin and end each day of Lent (beginning Wednesday) by reciting the Jesus Creed. In your evening recitation of the Jesus Creed, give some moments of recollection to confess any sins against the Jesus Creed throughout the day. This creed is essentially the ancient Shema of Israel which was quoted by Jesus. If you’ve been memorizing our key verse the last couple of weeks during worship, then you’ll be ready for this exercise!
Here it is:
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
(from Mark 12:29-31)
What we may discover – in tune with the wisdom of ancient Israel’s recitation of Shema and the early church’s recitation of the Jesus Creed and the Lord’s Prayer – is that this sacred rhythm works love of God and love of others into the bones and sinews of each day.
Who will take this challenge?