Saturday, 3 March 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie and Lenten Disciplines: my By the Way Lenten meditation for today's Medicine Hat News

I’m sitting in the church during one of our Lenten Stillness times at St Barnabas. We open the church for an hour at noon on weekdays during Lent. A simple prayer service is said at 1215pm. The rest of the time is silent. People can come and go whenever is convenient. Everyone is welcome.

It’s beautiful. There is the deep sense of peace and of the Presence of the Lord. God has been worshipped here for over 120 years. I am surrounded by Bible stories told in the rich colours of the stained-glass windows. These windows remind me of the world’s original “operating system” and my need to have it restored in me through Jesus.

The prayer service includes a meditation focussing on one of those windows. Today it’s about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Prayer is one of the classic “Lenten disciplines” along with self-examination, penitence, fasting, almsgiving and reading and meditating on the word of God.

Why bother with such old-fashioned practices? Something I heard in an episode of the CBC’s Little Mosque on the Prairie a couple of weeks ago made me think of a good reason.

Sarah Hamoudi, the contractor Yasir’s wife, decides to become a better Muslim by praying five times a day, including at her workplace. Her boss, Mayor Ann Popowicz, thinks Sarah is taking her religious observance too far. After all, “I’m a Christian,” the Mayor remarks, “but I don’t let it affect me.”

Oof! I’m a Christian and, if I’m honest, I have to admit there are areas in my life that I resist letting my Christian faith affect me, too.

That’s where the genius of the Lenten disciplines comes in. They are practical, trustworthy, Jesus-centred ways to let my Christian faith “affect” me so that God’s divine operating system can be fully restored in me.