A reflection by Mary Lou Edgar for January 28, 2024.
Time is passing so quickly; many of us can barely keep up.
Advent and Christmas mark the beginning of the church year: we celebrate that time by anticipating and commemorating the birth of our Savior.
Then comes the Epiphany when we think of the Magi and their visit to see Jesus. We need to always keep in mind that they were following a star and they had stopped to see Herod who had heard of this king and feared that He had come to take his place. He ordered children born during this time to be killed. It was after an angel foretold this, that Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt.
Now, as Lent approaches, I begin to consider how I can change myself during this important time.
What exactly is Lent? When we were children and teens, we were taught that we needed to “give up” something. This idea followed many of us into adulthood. We gave up chocolate, soda, losing our temper, fighting with our parents; many of us continue that tradition to this day. However, Lent is really a time of preparation. We are looking to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The choices we make help prepare us for that. Lent is a time to pray, to look at our behaviors, and to consider those less fortunate than we are.
How do we prepare?
Many of us don’t give adequate time to preparation. Earlier in my life I would give up one thing and be done with it. Because I didn’t feel a connection with Jesus, I didn’t feel very joyous on Easter. Later I began to think more seriously. Eventually I concluded that Lent should be a time when we all make changes in ourselves that also impact the world, making it a better place to be. Consequently, I could see behaviors that were impacting me and my relationships. I began to think of places where I could change myself. I could try to be less judgmental; I could stop talking negatively with others about those in my community; I could share more freely with those who need it and not be stingy with all the good things I have been given.
This all sounded good, but still didn’t hit the mark.
I thought about all the racial, cultural, and ethnic discussions I have been a part of when hurtful things were said. Did I speak up? I considered our environment – what do I do to improve that for everyone? Do I recycle? What am I doing to make sure that as many people as possible have enough food and warm clothing? My sense is that we know there are so many things lacking, but we are hesitant to become involved. Another one of my goals for Lent is to listen well to my family, my friends, and others in my life. Our world is in peril, I need to pray for the future of our world and not be afraid to speak my truth. I need to focus on learning so many things about scripture and other important areas. My list goes on and on. Maybe I should go on a forty-day retreat.
As an adult, I have tried to gauge my choices to my life experience. I remember being a child and considering Easter the height of the jellybean season. I was – and still am – a big fan of jellybeans. I used to find them in my home and sneak to eat them. When my mother would ask who was eating the jellybeans, I was as quiet as a mouse. Then I began to love the licorice ones and no one else did, so before long I was caught.
My sense of Lent is that we are following Jesus and attempting to make ourselves and the world a bit better. No one can do it all, but we can each do something. Believe me, it may be hard to stick to your guns and follow through, but the rewards at Easter make it all worthwhile. Finally, let’s not forget that praying for one another should be at the top of our list — we can all use that!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.