One of the greatest attributes of The Salvation Army is our great optimism. The Salvation Army sees the greatest potential for a society, city, or person. We look forward to the Kingdom of God and attempt to bring that Kingdom here. For the individual, we don’t want to see just salvation come to a person, but we want sanctification and true holiness. Sometimes, those of us who live in the visionary culture of The Salvation Army can become so focused on the future that we forget the reality of where we as individuals come from and where we stand today.
Lent is considered the greatest time of fasting in the Church, and perhaps it is the most underutilized time of the year by many Christians. This time of the year allows us to take a breather from the world. It is a time when we are asked to come back home to the Church and center ourselves in Christ so we can fully experience the joy of the resurrection. We stop looking out at what the world offers or what needs to be fixed in others; we see what needs to be fixed in our own lives. We are asked to devote a mere 40 days out of the year to denying ourselves and dying to ourselves so we can understand what it truly means Christ came to save us from death.
How we should go about participating in Lent is often daunting for those of us a part of traditions where the participating is not overtly emphasized. As Salvationists we have no uniform practices or traditions to guide us like other traditions have. What is our Lenten identity?
Perhaps we should dig deeper than our denominational roots in order to participate in something richer and more ancient than ourselves. The sisters and brothers of our faith who have paved the way for rich participation in the death of self and true resurrection in Christ are often called “The Mystics.” These special people give great insight into how to a life pleasing to God. They are gifted with the ability to look soley at God and forsake all that is in the world.
So today let’s take a page from the Mystics. The challenge is to simply be as you are. Be in the present and not the idealized future. Realize where you stand in your relation to God. Forget everything else and simply focus on your Creator. Allow God’s holiness to overshadow you and convict you. Do not be afraid to be honest with where you come from and the very present sin that is affecting your life. Mourn your sin today. Realize the affects of sin in your life.
It is only in death that we can understand and rejoice in the grace of resurrection. Lent is designed to give us this period of mourning and reflection to put us into a healthy perspective between Creator and creation and Savior and sinner. Today, turn your eyes upon Jesus and let them rest there all day long.
By: Courtney Rose, Salvation Army Soldier from the Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church in Chicago and Adjunct Professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.