Lenten Reflections

Go! for Lent: Mark 10:21

March 7, 2016
The Rev. L. Gordon Brewer, Jr., Diocese of East Tennessee, Executive Coordinator - Episcopal Appalachian Ministries

My brother and I started off the year making a pledge to each other. My brother turns 50 this year and I am his senior by only a mere 5 years and 1 month.  What we both said we would commit to doing, with no time limit on it, nor when or how it gets done, is hike the Appalachian Trail.  No, not the whole thing. Just the sections that go through North Carolina and Tennessee.  Maybe this is a little ambitious for a couple of 50 somethings, but we have vowed to take it on!

Needless to say, with this new motivation, I have been spending my time taking in information and looking online at all the backpacking stuff and strategies.  And man, there is a lot of stuff! I have gorged myself on Youtube videos about how and what to pack for hiking the Appalachian Trail.  But then it occurred to me, hiking the Appalachian Trail really isn’t about the backpacking stuff, is it?  Kind of what Jesus was saying the man in this story from Mark.  It’s not about the stuff…

We love our stuff…  Stuff has a way of tripping us up sometimes. If we are not careful we can develop a relationship with our stuff.  As followers of Jesus we are called to be in relationship with Him and each other.  We can let ourselves get lulled into thinking that if we just have the right stuff, we will somehow be happier and more content in life.

But Jesus tells us to let go of our stuff.  Jesus tells us to sell our stuff, give the money away and follow Him.  The rest of this passage in Mark lets us know how upset this fellow was about Jesus’ suggestion that he give it all away.  The writer of Mark says he was “grieved”.  But what Jesus knew was that for this fellow to hang on to his stuff he would be weighted down and he would not be able to finish the journey.  He would be so wrapped up with his stuff he would not be able to physically, emotionally or spiritually follow Jesus.  He would be buried under his stuff.

If we are truly going to follow Jesus, we have to take the risk of traveling lightly.  Just like going on a long backpacking trip, we are better off and will take better care of ourselves and others if we take very little with us. 

Isn’t that what Lent is really all about?  Lent is about taking on the task of ridding ourselves of all the stuff; those things that keep us burdened and separate us from God; those things that clutter our hearts, souls and minds.  Lent is about letting go those things that we hoard in our lives that restrict us from truly following Christ and living into a relationship with Him and each other.

Travel lightly my friends!  The Kingdom of God just over the next ridge!

Tagged in: Lent