by Ericka Stephens-Rennie
I recently read this article on Lent and its connection to justice. As someone who grew up in a non-denominational church, I, like author Julie Clawson, didn’t know what Lent really was until university. She writes:
I was serving as a Children’s Director at a small Baptist church and was attempting to find a way to introduce the kids to Lent in tangible ways. As I pulled together resources, I discovered that many of the common practices of the Lenten season sprung from the desire for justice. Prayer represented justice toward God, fasting justice towards self, and charity justice towards neighbors. Through this threefold pursuit of justice I saw that the Lenten season encompassed more than just personal piety, but called for a period of restoration of relationships with God, with self, and with others. In essence, a specific time to focus on the ways Jesus had taught us to actually live.
I hadn’t thought about the link between Lent and the pursuit of justice before, but this approach resonates with me. I like the idea of thematically linking the Lenten journey to justice, rather than to personal piety. It strikes me as much more challenging (and perhaps more in line with taking up one’s cross).
According to this view, Lent becomes much more than just giving up chocolate (or, in my case, swearing), which is, arguably, self-focused. If justice is the goal, Lent must transform from self-focused to other-focused…and wasn’t that what Jesus was always talking about?
All this to say, I feel like I’ve suddenly been clued in to what Lent is really all about: forty days of remembering justice for others, rather than chiseling away at some bad habit (or bulge around the waist) on our own. What have you given up for Lent? And what do you think about the links between Lent and justice?