Lent Issues a Bold Call for “Holy Conversation”
It’s Lent, the season of penance, reflection, and fasting in preparation for Christ’s Resurrection. I know because I see all the familiar signs. Ashes imposed on the forehead of the faithful. Crosses draped in purple. Special studies invade the life of the Church.
And yes, the General Board of Church and Society has issued its call for an “Alcohol Free for Lent.”
It’s a bold call to abstain from an addictive substance that has become so common that we dare not think twice about consuming it. It’s a courageous challenge to come back to a place of self-discipline. It is an invitation to forsake “worldly pleasure” as the hymn writer suggested in I Surrender All.
Yet, Lent issues another call, perhaps more challenging and critical than giving up “worldly pleasure” such as alcohol, electronics, food and so forth. This season beckons us to enter a sacred space – holy conversation. A practice that has been neglected in modern times, holy conversation gives us an opportunity to listen deeply to the pains and struggles of fellow pilgrims. It provides an atmosphere where we can encounter the Divine in others in a way that is refreshing, renewing and life transforming.
This is what we need more than ever in the life of the church. We need to draw close to one another and take seriously the words in the Holy Communion liturgy, “all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.” We need to practice Holy Conversation if we are going to live in peace with our fellow man.
So, this Lent, I invite you to have “Holy Conversations” with people like you and people who are different from you. Perhaps, the poet John Donne said it best,
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;”