The Lenten season invites us into a time of renewing our spiritual lives through repentance, fasting, prayer and alms. It invites us into God’s struggle with sin and evil, a struggle we wage every day even though the war was been won. It reminds us that our true enemy is not our neighbor, nor someone of different race or creed, nor our own demons. Our enemy is God.
God is our enemy because we have made God that. We have chosen other gods to worship and follow; we have chosen to do what seems good and pleasing to us; we have chosen not to struggle against sin in our lives. And we have made God the enemy.
But what an enemy to have!! Paul tells us in Romans (on the Third Sunday in Lent):
- when we were weak and ungodly, Christ died for us
- when we were sinners, Christ died for us
- while we were enemies, Christ reconciled us to God
The season of Lent begins by reminding us of our place in the universe: You are dust and to dust you shall return. And it ends in the darkness and silence of a Saturday night, our spirits waiting to hear that God did not abandon the holy One to the pit. We wait to hear that God remembers that we are but dust and does not abandon us to the pit. At the Vigil of Easter we are baptized and buried with Christ into a way of life that lives by promise, that lives by hope, that lives by the mercy of God.
How will our Lenten liturgies speak again the power and wisdom and mercy of God? Lenten liturgies that give room to repentance and prayer take seriously the might and mercy of our enemy. Lenten liturgies that fast from pomp and circumstance and alleluias take seriously our need for renewal and new life. Lenten liturgies that empower folks to offer themselves for the world are liturgies that transform us from enemies into the people of God.