What I want to say this Easter, a.k.a. “the end of Lent,” is “what a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The snow feels like some sort of collective meteorological flagellation (another storm tomorrow). Meanwhile, I’m trying to give up comparison for Lent.
But this Lent does feel like a journey (more than usual, I mean, you know, compared to other Lents, oops) thanks to one of my online guides, Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran minister and founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. (Where they have had, among other events, “Beer and Hymns” and “Beer and Carols.”)
I like to imagine how fun it would be IF Paul’s bellicose advice in Ephesians 6 had said, in addition to,
“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Also this, “Fashion sleeves of armour which are the holy images of God.”
Of course it didn’t say that, because if it did we might begin to think the Bible contradicted itself in the matter of tattooing. After all, if you were considering, for example, tattooing a verse from Leviticus that condemns homosexuality, you might want to consider the verse in Leviticus that forbids tattooing.
Or you could just thank the Lord for her and continue to make your way as a Zen Baptist in this world. (By which “you” I mean “I.”)
I started going back to church in the 90s (I suppose I could say Gay 90s but I honestly don’t think we were quite there yet), among other reasons, because I wanted my week and my year to be structured on something other than the work-week and the academic calendar.
Advent and Lent help me mark progress through each year in ways other than “grades turned in yet?” even now, when I’m not part of an official faith community.
(Let me just say, as an aside here, that Minneapolis is a happening place. Not only do they have a tattoo parlor called Leviticus Tattoo, they have a gay bar called the Gay Nineties.)
I’m too contrary to have followed each suggestion in this “House for All Sinners and Saints’ 40 Ideas for Keeping a Holy Lent,” plus I haven’t quite remembered to look each day, plus on the day it suggested donating to Goodwill I wasn’t in a town where there is one when it was open, BUT, it has been one of my checkpoints this Lent.
Today’s suggestion is “forgive someone.” Tomorrow’s is “internet diet.” I’m on it for tomorrow, as long as diet isn’t interpreted as “fast.” This semester already I’ve avoided Facebook (which I dearly love) on several Sunday-through-Thursday stretches, just because I was feeling over-socialized. And this week is one of those weeks.
As for forgiveness, we’ll see. It’s not something I’m particularly good at. Perhaps I could work on forgiving myself for that. Or for something else. It is, of course, a point of pride for me that I am worse at forgiving myself than I am at forgiving anyone else.
I’m a mess.
On a morning after a night full of dreams when I went into buildings and couldn’t get back out the way I came in, or left buildings and couldn’t go back in at all, I think I will simply meditate on the path of forgiveness. Where does it start? How might I start?
And if you landed here looking for ways to condemn homosexuality and you’ve realized I’m ONE OF THOSE who love Jesus and support equality for all, or you want to condemn homosexuality AND tattoos and you’ve realized I think they’re both terrific, well–I forgive you. Do you forgive me?
(And by “I forgive you,” obviously I mean I will work on it. Seriously.)
But if we are in the business of taking the Bible literally (by which “we” I mean “you,” since I’m not in that business), we can agree that one is allowed, on the 491st visit to this site, NOT to forgive me, since Jesus said to forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven. (491! We’re talking serious blog traffic there.)
In benediction I will say I am finding my Crocs good footwear this a.m. for proclaiming the gospel of peace.
(photo from flickr, Creative Commons, by Lime Spiked)