Let's do it differently this year. Let's not make it about us. (And yes, I know - that bumper sticker shows up a lot, doesn't it?)
Many of us can do Lent without any thought at all. Need to lose a few pounds? Give up chocolate for Lent. Need to watch one's language? Give up swearing for Lent. Need to spend more time on one thing? Give up another; as in trading Facebook or "Real Housewives of Sharkey" for reading a good book or reading THE Good Book.
But then we read the words of the Psalmist: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Much harder. Much harder to accomplish. THAT kind of prayer is tackled by not only giving up things for 40 days, but by removing things from within and around our hearts so that God can come in and clean. Sort of a combination "Hoarders" and Merry Maids.
And there are so many things that clog the way to our hearts; things that we hold and caress and love and cherish: grudges and hurts and suffering and times we were wronged and deeply held beliefs we cannot pry from our hard little hands. Nigh impossible to ask God to create a clean heart when it's chockablock full of junk.
Our theme this year is "Taking Risks", and the time together will be spend looking at so many ways we stay safe by surrounding ourselves with our emotional baggage. There's a wonderful story by Henri Nouwen. You'll hear it later. I'll preach it Sunday.
But until then, let's make this Lent one that's not about us, but about God-with-us.