Like most people who grew up Lutheran, my first reaction when I miss a day of a Lenten discipline - in this case, not blogging yesterday - is a combination of self-denial and self-deprecation. The thoughts of "Oh it doesn't matter; Grace abounds!" are intricately tied up with "I've failed once again; I'm the worst."
Neither of these are particularly helpful answers, because both reveal a lack of priorities.
Of course grace abounds, but grace does not mean that we ought to abandon our acts of discipline through which God is forming us into the image and likeness of Christ. To say this doesn't matter - and this goes for whatever Lenten discipline or Christian behavior we undertake - is a disservice to the God whose Lenten journey led to the Cross.
We must remember that we change our behaviors during Lent to recognize the fact that God's own behavior during Lent was literally life-saving.
On the flipside, to dwell in our failure fails to recognize that our behaviors are just that: acts of devotion, recognition, and imitation. Our Lenten practices, whether giving something(s) up or taking something(s) on, are never salvific. Christ has already done that work, and that is the work that matters first. Our failures reveal to us our deep need for Jesus and His own Lenten journey.
We must remember that Lent, like the rest of the church year, like all things, is ultimately about Jesus: what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do. What we do in Lent is only a reflection of that journey, and a process through which Jesus seeks to continue the work of salvation through the transformation of our daily lives.
Sometimes, we have to prioritize and recognize the difference between what it is that Jesus is doing and what it is that we are doing. Last night, Jesus brought some good friends into our lives that we haven't spent nearly enough time with lately, and come May, we will spend even less time with as we all move on to different homes, different callings, different paths.
Sometimes, Jesus' priority is breaking us out of our Lenten disciplines to reveal to us a new discipline. Last night, Jesus broke me briefly out of this process of writing to spend unchecked hours with fellow seminarians and longtime family members who are becoming true friends. Of course it mattered that I didn't write. And of course my failure to write isn't the worst thing in the world. But the priority Jesus had for me last night was to value the people He placed in my life, to give them attention and time, to foster growth in our relationships, and to take joy in the fact that, through Jesus' Lenten journey, we are all saved, all being shaped into Him, and all sisters and brothers in His Body.
That is a priority I want more of in my life, so thank you, Jesus, for making it a prrio
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Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.