Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lenten disciplines: adding stuff rather than refraining

Last Lent, I gave up eating meat. This was to reduce my carbon footprint and to avert cruelty to animals.

I had a really hard time. Ironically, I was especially craving lamb. Jesus, lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Munch munch munch. Mmm, lamb.

I still believe in and am deeply concerned about global warming. I also acknowledge that meat animals are not raised humanely.

However, this Lent, I am thinking about adding stuff, rather than giving stuff up. I will refrain from eating excessive amounts of meat at all times. But I think this Lent, I will add social service rather than taking stuff away.

I know Jesus (allegedly) went fasting 40 days and 40 nights before he began his ministry. But the main point of his life was his ministry to the poor. Of course, in this highly global world, ministering to the poor is more complex than in Jesus' day. The Episcopal Public Policy Network gives us some examples of what they have on the agenda:

This year’s EPPN Lenten series will introduce some of the key policy areas that we will focus on in the 111th Congress. With a new President and Congress, the legislative pace promises to be brisk.

* Becoming Healers of our Suffering Earth -- focusing on climate change and what we can do individually and as a church
* Securing Economic Justice in a Global Crisis -- focusing on the economic crisis affecting our neediest neighbors
* Making Foreign Aid Work Better -- focusing on ways we can improve foreign aid in our continuing efforts to achieve the MDGs
* Promoting Health Care for All -- focusing on the health care crisis in our country
* Reforming Immigration Policy -- focusing on the issues of immigration and how we respond as people of faith
* Reconciling with our American Indian Family – focusing on preserving cultural and economic resources of American Indians and Native Alaskans

As Isaiah 58:9-12 says:

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

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