Friday, March 09, 2007

sleep-deprived theology

...I am. Sorry about the scant posting, but Lent is upon me and I am sta-raight out. Just glancing at my calendar makes me feel tired, and this week was one of the worst, with a retreat at the beginning and a 13-hour day at the end.
Tonight I went to a meeting for a young person who I am "mentoring" in preparation for a mission trip she's making in the Summer with the Episcopal Diocese of MA. I was speaking to a man at the coffee table, who told me he is the "token protestant" at our parish's Men's Group. I said "I know how you feel, being the token Catholic here tonight" and he said "no, we're all catholic, you're just the only Roman Catholic."
ahhh, right. Nice little faux pas. I also had chicken at the dinner they served. On Friday night, IN AN EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
I was like a rebel without a cause tonight.
I've been doing a Bible Study with some of the teachers from high school faith formation program. We're doing the Gospel of Mark- the shortest one. It's been kind of fascinating, actually- we're looking at each story with a new eye, and reading lots of little study books to help us understand. One story that really caught my eye, this being Lent, was Mark 2:23-27. Jesus and his buddies are walking along, plucking wheat, and they are accused of breaking the sabbath. Jesus tells them that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
I remember hearing in college that what was so radical about Jesus was that he told the Jews that the rules were not the point. That the Jews of that time had become so caught up in and dependent on their rules and regulations, that they had lost touch with the point of it all. The conversation that they have with Jesus, asking him "which is the most important commandment?" is an illustration of that. They don't ask him "what does God want of us?" but instead, they focused on the rule- wanting to know which rule they should follow even more than they follow the others.
Now here we are in the season of Lent, being careful not to eat meat when we're not supposed to, give up something and stick with it, color inside the lines. Is it silly?
The girlies in my OTHER Bible Study group, who are mostly of the protestanty type, asked me to explain Lent to them last year. I told them that Lent can be thought of like a wedding anniversary. On our anniversaries, we remember just what we fell in love for- we celebrate all the things we love about each other. We try to be the best spouse we can- loving and kind and generous. Just like we should be every day. Lent, for Catholics, is the same kinda thing (imho)- we remember why we are Christians, why God loves us, and try to be the best Catholics we can be. It's not about the rules, it's about wanting to return in love, the love we've been given.
At least I hope that's what it is all about, or I'm going to burn in hell for eating overcooked, mushy chicken in a flourescent-lit Episcopal Church hall on a Friday. Yikes.

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