Lent as an Opportunity for Sacrificial Living

Lent as an Opportunity for Sacrificial Living March 1, 2022

Lent is the season of sacrifice. The season in which we let go of what stands in the way of the fullness of life and a vital and transformative experience of the Holy. Lent reminds us that we can choose sacrifice for the greater good and that in the choosing, we will experience abundant life and solidarity with creation and our human companions. Our choice to sacrifice ironically expands our hearts, minds, and spirits, enabling us to grow in wisdom, stature, and relatedness.

In the past few days, President Biden has reminded USAmericans that we will have to pay higher prices at the gas pump to affirm the sovereignty of Ukraine. That he had to remind us of the need to sacrifice for a greater good, for the wellbeing of another nation, and the future of democracy is a sad reality in self-interested, individualistic, and nation-first America. Our European allies will sacrifice much more than we will, given their greater dependence on Russia as a source of energy. Our sacrifices in the USA will be minimal – almost non-existent – compared to the sacrifices of life, largesse, and home going on in Ukraine today as well as among soldiers from both sides.

Sacrifice is essential to a good and abundant life, and we must choose to sacrifice if we are to fulfill our potential as God’s companions in healing the earth. This is not body-denying ascetism but the affirmation of our common humanity and the need to care for present and future generations. We must choose to live more simply so others can simply live, enjoy the fruits of freedom, and so that future generations of humans and non-humans may flourish.

The goal of spirituality involves going from self-interest to world loyalty and from self-centeredness to Self-centeredness, to a larger vision of ourselves as connected with the joys and sorrows of the world around us and seeing our good as grounded in promoting the good of others. Seeing our joy as intimately connect to the joy of others, and the pain of others as our pain.

This morning, I viewed a social media post asserting that if USA folk lowered their thermostats 3 degrees. While I cannot verify this data, it is clear that small changes like this would more than compensate for any other sacrifices made as a result of the sanctions. We need also to note that while for many of us higher fuel prices will not change our way of life, for others greater fuel costs will be disastrous economically. We must be willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of our fellow Americans, who will be burdened by the impact of sanctions, as an act of solidarity in our own nation and with the Ukrainian people. We must also be willing to support Ukrainian refugees and help NATO and EU nations bear the burdens of their sanctions.

Lent calls us to the “moral equivalent of war,” that is to moral integrity, to developing a moral compass in which life becomes an adventure – albeit a risky one – in healing and wholeness for ourselves and the world, an adventure in which we experience God’s presence by loving our neighbor – and the stranger – as ourselves. As we condemn Russian aggression, we must look hard at our own faults as a people and nation, our own violence, nationalism, and previous acts of aggression. We cannot change the past, but we can repair the damage of the past through honest confession and repentance, for claiming the distance between our nation’s ideals and realities and seeking to align ourselves with the moral arc of history as it flows through our time.

Lent is not an invitation to otherworldliness. Lent reminds us that God is with us – suffering and rejoicing – and that as we respond to the creatures we are responding to our Creator. That we can live in the now and plan for the long haul as companions in God’s aim to heal the world.

We do not need “cheap grace” but extravagant world loyalty, justice-seeking, and hospitality. We don’t need individual salvation but willingness to see our salvation as part of the greater salvation of our planet, standing with the oppressed, attacked, vulnerable, forgotten, and generations to come in the Lenten adventure of world healing. Out of our sacrifices, our spirits will soar, and we will truly become God’s hands and feet in building the infrastructure for God’s dream of Shalom.

+++
Bruce Epperly is a professor, pastor, spiritual guide, and author of over sixty books, including Spiritual Decluttering: Forty Days to Personal Transformation and Planetary Healing; Mystics in Action: Twelve Saints for Today; Walking with Francis of Assisi: From Privilege to Activism; God Online: A Mystic’s Guide to the Internet; and Prophetic Healing: Howard Thurman’s Vision of Contemplative
Lent is the season of sacrifice. The season in which we let go of what stands in the way of the fullness of life and a vital and transformative experience of the Holy. Lent reminds us that we can choose sacrifice and that in the choosing, we will experience abundant life and solidarity with creation and our human companions. Our choice to sacrifice ironically expands our hearts, minds, and spirits, enabling us to grow in wisdom, stature, and relatedness.
In the past few days, President Biden has reminded USAmericans that we will have to pay higher prices at the gas pump to affirm the sovereignty of Ukraine. That he had to remind us of the need to sacrifice for a greater good, for the wellbeing of another nation, and the future of democracy is a sad reality in self-interested, individualistic, and nation-first America. Our European allies will sacrifice much more than we will, given their greater dependence on Russia as a source of energy. Our sacrifices in the USA will be minimal – almost non-existent – compared to the sacrifices of life, largesse, and home going on in Ukraine today as well as among soldiers from both sides.

Sacrifice is essential to a good and abundant life, and we must choose to sacrifice if we are to fulfill our potential as God’s companions in healing the earth. This is not body-denying ascetism but the affirmation of our common humanity and the need to care for present and future generations. We must choose to live more simply so others can simply live, enjoy the fruits of freedom, and so that future generations of humans and non-humans may flourish.
The goal of spirituality involves going from self-interest to world loyalty and from self-centeredness to Self-centeredness, to a larger vision of ourselves as connected with the joys and sorrows of the world around us and seeing our good as grounded in promoting the good of others. Seeing our joy as intimately connect to the joy of others, and the pain of others as our pain.
This morning, I viewed a social media post asserting that if USA folk lowered their thermostats 3 degrees, this would more than compensate for any other sacrifices made as a result of the sanctions. We need also to note that while for many of us higher fuel prices will not change our way of life, for others greater fuel costs will be disastrous economically. We must be willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of our fellow Americans, who will be burdened by the impact of sanctions, as an act of solidarity in our own nation and with the Ukrainian people. We must also be willing to support Ukrainian refugees and help NATO and EU nations bear the burdens of their sanctions.

Lent calls us to the “moral equivalent of war,” that is to moral integrity, to developing a moral compass in which life becomes an adventure – albeit a risky one – in healing and wholeness for ourselves and the world, in which we experience God’s presence by loving our neighbor – and the stranger – as ourselves. As we condemn Russian aggression, we must look hard at our own faults as a people and nation, our own violence, nationalism, and previous acts of aggression. We cannot change the past, but we can repair the damage of the past through honest confession and repentance, for claiming the distance between our nation’s ideals and realities and seeking to align ourselves with the moral arc of history as it flows through our time.
Lent is not an invitation to otherworldliness. Lent reminds us that God is with us – suffering and rejoicing – and that as we respond to the creatures we are responding to our Creator. That we can live in the now and plan for the long haul as companions in God’s aim to heal the world.
We do not need “cheap grace” but extravagant world loyalty, justice-seeking, and hospitality. We don’t need individual salvation but willingness to see our salvation as part of the greater salvation of our planet, standing with the oppressed, attacked, vulnerable, forgotten, and generations to come in the Lenten adventure of world healing. Out of our sacrifices, our spirits will soar and we will truly become God’s hands and feet in building the infrastructure for God’s dream of Shalom.

+++
Bruce Epperly is a professor, pastor, spiritual guide, and author of over sixty books, including Spiritual Decluttering: Forty Days to Personal Transformation and Planetary Healing; Mystics in Action: Twelve Saints for Today; Walking with Francis of Assisi: From Privilege to Activism; God Online: A Mystic’s Guide to the Internet; and Prophetic Healing: Howard Thurman’s Vision of Contemplative Activism.

Lent is the season of sacrifice. The season in which we let go of what stands in the way of the fullness of life and a vital and transformative experience of the Holy. Lent reminds us that we can choose sacrifice and that in the choosing, we will experience abundant life and solidarity with creation and our human companions. Our choice to sacrifice ironically expands our hearts, minds, and spirits, enabling us to grow in wisdom, stature, and relatedness.
In the past few days, President Biden has reminded USAmericans that we will have to pay higher prices at the gas pump to affirm the sovereignty of Ukraine. That he had to remind us of the need to sacrifice for a greater good, for the wellbeing of another nation, and the future of democracy is a sad reality in self-interested, individualistic, and nation-first America. Our European allies will sacrifice much more than we will, given their greater dependence on Russia as a source of energy. Our sacrifices in the USA will be minimal – almost non-existent – compared to the sacrifices of life, largesse, and home going on in Ukraine today as well as among soldiers from both sides.

Sacrifice is essential to a good and abundant life, and we must choose to sacrifice if we are to fulfill our potential as God’s companions in healing the earth. This is not body-denying ascetism but the affirmation of our common humanity and the need to care for present and future generations. We must choose to live more simply so others can simply live, enjoy the fruits of freedom, and so that future generations of humans and non-humans may flourish.
The goal of spirituality involves going from self-interest to world loyalty and from self-centeredness to Self-centeredness, to a larger vision of ourselves as connected with the joys and sorrows of the world around us and seeing our good as grounded in promoting the good of others. Seeing our joy as intimately connect to the joy of others, and the pain of others as our pain.
This morning, I viewed a social media post asserting that if USA folk lowered their thermostats 3 degrees, this would more than compensate for any other sacrifices made as a result of the sanctions. We need also to note that while for many of us higher fuel prices will not change our way of life, for others greater fuel costs will be disastrous economically. We must be willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of our fellow Americans, who will be burdened by the impact of sanctions, as an act of solidarity in our own nation and with the Ukrainian people. We must also be willing to support Ukrainian refugees and help NATO and EU nations bear the burdens of their sanctions.

Lent calls us to the “moral equivalent of war,” that is to moral integrity, to developing a moral compass in which life becomes an adventure – albeit a risky one – in healing and wholeness for ourselves and the world, in which we experience God’s presence by loving our neighbor – and the stranger – as ourselves. As we condemn Russian aggression, we must look hard at our own faults as a people and nation, our own violence, nationalism, and previous acts of aggression. We cannot change the past, but we can repair the damage of the past through honest confession and repentance, for claiming the distance between our nation’s ideals and realities and seeking to align ourselves with the moral arc of history as it flows through our time.
Lent is not an invitation to otherworldliness. Lent reminds us that God is with us – suffering and rejoicing – and that as we respond to the creatures we are responding to our Creator. That we can live in the now and plan for the long haul as companions in God’s aim to heal the world.
We do not need “cheap grace” but extravagant world loyalty, justice-seeking, and hospitality. We don’t need individual salvation but willingness to see our salvation as part of the greater salvation of our planet, standing with the oppressed, attacked, vulnerable, forgotten, and generations to come in the Lenten adventure of world healing. Out of our sacrifices, our spirits will soar and we will truly become God’s hands and feet in building the infrastructure for God’s dream of Shalom.

+++
Bruce Epperly is a professor, pastor, spiritual guide, and author of over sixty books, including Spiritual Decluttering: Forty Days to Personal Transformation and Planetary Healing; Mystics in Action: Twelve Saints for Today; Walking with Francis of Assisi: From Privilege to Activism; God Online: A Mystic’s Guide to the Internet; and Prophetic Healing: Howard Thurman’s Vision of Contemplative Activism.

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