Far more than mere fasting from one’s favorite indulgences, the traditional purpose of Lent is the ritual preparation and spiritual rededication of the believer and the church to their purpose in the world. The distortion of sacred rituals to serve self-indulgent and superficial displays of piety is not new.
I often wonder during every Advent season what “expecting” must have been like for Mary and Joseph after the annunciation of the angel Gabriel. In that dark, quiet, livestock stable that they found being the only available refuge in the days before the birth of Jesus – and while Mary already must have already started feeling some intermittent labor pains – in those moments, the authentic Christian root of the season of Advent was laid.
Having taken a slightly early retirement in January of this year from full-time ministerial responsibilities, I found myself meditating on my ecclesial roots. I am an American Baptist. But why? And so, I found myself reentering the story of my pilgrimage.”