Yesterday when I got in my car to go to church, the temperature in the car read zero degrees. (Why does my car need a thermometer anyway?) As someone said to me last week sometime, as we were getting about 8 inches of snow dumped on us, "Winter just won't give up this year."
When I got to church, though, everyone was commenting on how clear and blue the sky was. "Look at the blue sky!" people said, as if there were things to be happy about, even on a cold March day.
We signed a Lenten prayer at the 10:00 service yesterday, but I didn't get to be a part of it: instead, I led my very first "Praying in Color" workshop. Response was underwhelming, but there were a couple of hopeful signs: one woman drew a manger in the middle of her paper, remembering the name for God "Emmanuel." ("It's a trapezoid!" some others informed me.) Another woman commented afterward that it helped her concentrate on God, so that her mind would not wander so much during her prayer.
At 11:15, a few people made their way to the Education wing to view part one of a DVD series: "Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick?" I got to watch a good part of it before slipping out to prepare for the birthday dinner. The one statistic that stuck with me was that over 50% of households in the U.S. live on $48,000 a year or less.
Watching this video series may seem like an odd Lenten discipline, but to me it's just right: during Lent we need to look sin in the eye: both the individual things that get in our way and keep us from God, and the systemic injustices we participate in.
It's a cold day in March, but the sky is clear and blue. There is a lot to pray for, to repent for, and to work for. And there are signs of hope, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.