We are all like sweet-and-sour soup. We can be so incredibly loving and yet so cruel and nasty. We pray collectively for peace and then infect the world with vicious rumors and not think anything of it. We think we are sweet, and it is the person over there who is the sour one. We blame others for what we have done to ourselves; or blame ourselves for what was done to us. We magnify the imperfections of others and deny our own; or magnify our own imperfections and conceal or deny the imperfections of others.
But we can’t get away with that during the season of Lent; the forty days, not including Sundays, that come between Ash Wednesday and Easter. During Lent, we are summoned to a time of introspection, soul-searching, and truth-telling; a time of making an assessment of our personal role in the situations in which we find ourselves; a time to get honest (but not brutal) with ourselves about ourselves and the way we act in relation to each other.
Sweet and sour soup is not called sweet or sour soup. If it were only sour it would be unpalatable; if it were only sweet it would be dessert. It is not necessarily by eliminating the sweet or the sour; it is by balancing the sweet and the sour in the right ratio that makes it an inviting and delicious concoction. The same is true with us.Have you ever done that faith exercise when you close your eyes and fall backward, trusting that someone is there and will catch you as you fall? That is what Christ does for those who trust in him. As Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Lent is a question of balance between what you keep, and what you allow to fall away.
This season of Lent, as we approach the cross on which love was crucified but did not perish ~ let us freely admit to the sweet and sour within us and between us. In our weakness, there is strength. In our strength, there is weakness. Let us accept ourselves as we are ~ even the parts of ourselves that we do not like. Let us take a spiritual inventory of ourselves and take our whole selves to the cross, lay our burdens down, and let God do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Welcome to the sweet & sour, soulful soup of Lent.
Dwight Lee Wolter is the author of several books and the pastor of the Congregational Church of Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He blogs at dwightleewolter.com
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