Easter is very late this year. For the most part, that makes church life easier. More of the country gets a taste of spring, which makes Easter and resurrection more tangible realities.
Good Friday is two weeks from today. I should confess that this hasn’t been my best Lent. I’ve done pretty well with what I gave up for Lent, but that seems to be the easier part for me. What hasn’t gone as well has been the genuine spiritual growth that I’d hoped would happen during this season.
Having spent my entire ministry in the South, I’ve had to struggle to convince former evangelicals that Lent has value for them and their lives. I used to explain that Lent was a liturgical form of the old fashion “revival.” Unfortunately, that image doesn’t work well anymore because even the conservative churches have given up revivals.
That is a shame in a way. Once upon a time, those week-long “protracted meetings” brought the community together around the issue of spiritual formation and renewal. Someone from outside the community would come in and often say things that the pastor really couldn’t say. People were challenged and confronted about what was broken or not working in their lives.
When I was a teenager, our youth group would go on retreats to camps or spiritual quests that genuinely changed a number of us. Many of us still live our lives out of the formation that happened in those moments. The trouble is we are having so few of those moments in our lives now.
That was what I was hoping for this Lent. Maybe you were, too.
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal