I opened an ema.il and every writer's bad dream appeared in the message box: Is that the best you could come up with for Shrove Tuesday and the preparation for Lent? A holy Lent to you.
Ouch. Somebody get the woman a cup of coffee. Still, she did have a point: the eMo on Shrove Tuesday wasn't about much of anything, and it wasn't very holy: just dreams delayed so long that a permanent fatalism sets in, and then dreams come true. Not very Lenten.
I had already resolved to do better by the time I got back from church last night, and had sat down to do so. But I was tired and lazy, and the pump wouldn't prime. Hungry, too, so I padded off to the kitchen to do something about that. Before long, I gave up. Ash Wednesday 2010 had come and gone, with no Ash Wednesday eMo to mark either its arrival or its passing.
And so Lent begins appropriately, with a moral failure of modest proportions. Jesus resisted his temptations to satiety and power better than I resist mine to indolence -- no surprise there. As always, I am impressed by how gentle and reasonable my temptations seem: Oh, never mind, sweetie, they say, you're tired. Just take it easy. God loves you just the way you are.
Indeed, God does love me just the way I am. Always has, even at those sorry times when what I was has been signficantly south of what I could have been. But the fact that God loves me as I am doesn't mean God wants me to stay that way forever. Part of love is challenge: Be what you can be. Grow into the full stature of Christ. Use what I have given you, and take joy in using it. I will give you the energy for it if you will step up to the plate and begin. See? Feel the stream of living water that flows straight from my heart to yours? Let that stream rush with power into the world, and you will know why I put you here, in this place, at this time.
Resisting temptation seems to have been energizing for Jesus: immediately he went and began his public ministry -- those three short, intense years, culminating in his shockingly total answer to How much? How much do you love? What will you hold back?
Nothing. He holds back nothing.