Many of us have been overwhelmed during this time of Lent by news about the war in Ukraine. Our social media timelines and walls are filled with updates on what’s happening in Ukraine.
We see tragic images of war and violence and of displaced people, especially Ukrainian women and children fleeing to safe places. At the same time we also see images of hospitality and hope - volunteers working around the clock in receiving the people, Churches and communities opening their doors and welcoming the “other/s” as their neighbors and Faith-based organizations rendering humanitarian and financial support in meeting the needs of the needy. We see Hope shining through in the many ways in which ordinary people are trying to make a difference.
Lent is a time, where we are invited to examine ourselves and all that is happening around us, in the light of the self-giving of Christ on the cross. It is a time of introspection as well as invitation for all churches and Christians to reflect on how we can live in ways that make a difference?
This Lent I have found inspiration from the words of an American pastor and poet William Arthur Ward who reminds us about the right fast that we have to take up this Lent. Ward writes:
fast from judging others, feast on the Christ dwelling within them
fast from emphasis on differences, feast on the unity of all life
fast from apparent darkness, feast on the reality of light
fast from words that pollute, feast on phrases that purify
fast from discontent, feast on gratitude
fast from anger, feast on patience
fast from pessimism feast on optimism
fast from worry feast on trust
fast from complaining feast on appreciation
fast from negatives feast on affirmatives
fast from unrelenting pressures feast on unceasing prayer
fast from hostility feast on nonviolence
fast from bitterness feast on forgiveness
fast from self-concern feast on compassion for others
fast from personal anxiety feast on eternal truth
fast from discouragement feast on hope
fast from facts that depress feast on truths that uplift
fast from lethargy feast on enthusiasm
fast from suspicion feast on truth
fast from thoughts that weaken feast on promises that inspire
fast from idle gossip feast on purposeful silence
In his poem, Ward sees a feasting in every fasting. We often think of Lent as a time of giving up. But this poem reminds us that Lent is not only about giving up, but also about taking up a new way of living that will last beyond Lent. It is about cultivating those habits of the heart that can make a difference to others.
May God whom we know through Jesus Christ empower us by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that we can learn the ways of goodness, peace, justice and love during this time of lent and always. Amen