04 March 2011

a lenten resolution

Every spring it is time to start thinking about resolutions for Lent, typically those things from which we are choosing to abstain in an act of self-denial. For the most part evangelicals have been tongue-in-cheek regarding Lenten fasts, as though our 40-day lack of donuts or soda will do the job at aligning our spirit with the sufferings of Christ. Sometimes it is more serious than that, and some people take up the challenge quite dramatically.

And sometimes, albeit rare, there are Lenten fasts which fall into both categories. I have one of them this year. Though it may initially sound whimsical and dismissive, I assure you that I am serious about this - and the outcome just might be serious all the more.

This year I abstain from inner-church conflict.

Some will want to roll their eyes over this one, but consider my context. Most of the people that browse this blog know that I pastor a church. Some of you know that this particular church has been riddled with internal conflict for many years, and that our family walked into a rather volatile situation just over one year ago. Amidst all the attacking, I am declaring a holy fast - from making any sort of response.

There will likely need to be some parameters set in place. After all, I am a pastor and cannot rightly see others being attacked without stepping in to mediate. (I am not talking about abstaining from this activity.) But I am saying that any personal defense of my actions, when I am maligned or attacked, will simply stand unanswered. I will stand before God alone and let the world think what it will.

I suppose, in a very Abraham Lincoln-esque way, that keeping silent is the only way to assure that there will be no deceit found in my mouth - as there was none in Christ's. For it was Lincoln who aptly reminded us that it is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

And I am so ready to get out of the rhythm of conflict that my Lenten fast begins a bit early this year. For I have, over the last few weeks, already moved to this end. And sometimes Lent takes us to a place where we should never resume our old life again.

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