picture of the battle between Carnival and Lent
Lent may not be Carnival, but it needn’t be “soul-crushing self-abuse” either.

We are starting to see the sun.

In class, we were not sure that the disciples in Joppa expected Peter to do anything miraculous when they sent for him in Lydda. We thought they needed consolation, and were reaching out for pastoral care. And we were not sure that Peter thought he could “do” anything when he went, either. But … they were open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, in the situation, and as it turned out … something beyond their expectations happened.

In church we were encouraged to remember that Lent is not a time for soul-crushing self-abuse – just in case we had that idea, which sometimes it seems people do have about Lent. It is a time, instead, to do some turning inward, to reflect, to seek answers, and in particular to three questions: Who is God? Who are we? And what are we to do about that? If we start with God – like Calvin did, because, well, God is God – we notice that the lectionary readings for this season, at least this year, all emphasize God’s making of covenants; God is the one who covenants with humans. In fact, in Genesis 9, with all the living. God is the one who hangs up God’s weapon of destruction, God’s bow, and promises to remember “I’m not going to do that ever again,” who promises to remember to hold back from destroying living things.

There’s something reassuring in that. The promise. And the sun.