Lenten Luggage Drop

Lenten Luggage Drop

February 16, 2024 by Gregg DeMey

A new season is upon us! No, it’s not spring yet – despite the amazingly warm February temperatures and recent blaze of sunshiny days. It’s the season of Lent.

Alas, even to a passionate pastor, “Lent’ sounds less inviting than “spring.” After all, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday when the Biblical chorus for the day resounds, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Hardly a sunny sentiment. Fiercely realistic, though. You have to hand it to the Church on that front.

On the other hand, the season of Lent is all about following Jesus. That is compelling! It’s a difficult, narrow path. But there is no brighter or better way to go. And without Jesus, human life truly is all dust and ashes. The only way out of this mortal cycle of sin and death is by walking Jesus’ way into the Love of God. That’s what the season of Lent is all about. A 40-day journey between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and then, so much more! The ashes are not the end of the story, but merely the beginning. The cross is not the end of the journey. No, the cross is simply the prologue to the best story of all.

In order to keep company with Jesus on this journey and give him our full attention, it might be in our best interest to minimize some of the inevitable distractions along the way. This is why many folks classically “give something up for Lent” on Ash Wednesday. It’s not about punishing yourself or suffering to earn God’s favor. Rather, it’s casting aside habits, behaviors, and patterns of thought that we know will distract us from the deeper desire of our heart: Following Jesus.

I told a story at the Ash Wednesday worship service about an old family tradition in which high school graduates receive a new set of luggage as a symbol of independence, launching them into the adventure of adult life. One of my sisters took her shiny, leather, five-piece set of giant Samsonite suitcases to France for a semester of study during her sophomore year of college. The airlines actually let her check all those bags back then for no extra charge!! Complications began upon her arrival in Paris when her diminutive host mom picked her up at the airport in an even more diminutive Renault hatchback. While her French mom mumbled various maledictions while surveying the impossible situation, my sister began to realize that she had brought far more than her French life would require.

The beginning of the Season of Lent is a lot like that. Most of us are packing more baggage (external stuff, but more significantly, internal stuff) than we need to follow Jesus. In fact, our material and emotional baggage may very well be the primary source of our distraction, shunting us off sideways and away from leaning into the spiritual desires of our heart.

If you are aware of extra baggage in your life (excess scrolling, shopping, addictive behavior, compulsively unfruitful thought patterns, etc…the possibilities are endless!), this could be your moment to prayerfully name your biggest baggage and set it down for the 40-day Lenten journey ahead. Likely, you’ll feel freer for laying it down. Perhaps Jesus himself will carry it for you in the meantime. Either way, I’d love for you to join me in offering Jesus our full attention.

Over the next five weeks in worship, we’ll be examining some of the behaviors and habits that Jesus himself practiced in order to keep himself plugged into the will and love of his heavenly Father. I’m so eager to learn more from Jesus and to follow him more purposefully.

Grace to you as we walk together,

Pastor Gregg

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