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Faith Matters: Sometimes we just have to laugh a little to help keep our faith

‘Drive Thru Ashes’ still popular at Lakewood Ranch church

Harvest United Methodist's Ash Wednesday event serves up free coffee, prayers, imposition of ashes and an invitation to try out the church, all in under five minutes. Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent.
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Harvest United Methodist's Ash Wednesday event serves up free coffee, prayers, imposition of ashes and an invitation to try out the church, all in under five minutes. Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent.

I’m not so sure that I’m ready for Lent this year.

Being a Protestant, Lent looks a little different than it does for my Catholic brothers and sisters, but it is still centered around acknowledging our sin and seeking to repent from it.

I feel like my sins are many this year. My 2019 supply of patience exhausted itself about the third week of battling Cortez Road traffic in January.

On countless occasions this year, I’ve found myself being unkind with my words and even less kind with my thoughts. Somehow I feel like 2019 has already gone on far too long and I’m just not in the mood for the seriousness that comes with Lent.

But, I am ready for joy.

I’m ready for the Resurrection and the promise of God that this — all of whatever has been 2019 so far — is not as good as it gets.

Still, there are quite a few days between now and Easter. I’ve been wondering if every moment of every one of those days needs to be spent in beating myself up over my failings, constantly confessing to God that my sins are many — as if He doesn’t already know.

I guess that’s why I say that I’m not ready for Lent. It’s already been a long winter and I’m just not sure I can handle another 40 solid days of deep reflection and repentance.

Hope Lee.jpg
The Rev. Dr. Hope Italiano Lee

Please understand that I truly believe that if we do not acknowledge our sins and our need for redemption and salvation, then we will not fully grasp the joy and the hope that is the Resurrection. I just feel like I’m going to need to pace myself in that effort.

In many ways that sentiment reflects what it means to engage in the Christian life — we need to pace ourselves if we are going to go the distance. I meet people all the time who start their faith life with fireworks and go so hard, so fast, that they fizzle and fade out long before they get to experience a maturity of that faith.

We need to go into Lent with an understanding that we’re not perfect and we’re not always going to get Lent “perfect” either. Which is kind of the whole point of Lent — admitting that we’re not perfect and that we stand in need of a perfect Savior.

So, I’m thankful that my church will be hosting the larger community in an evening of comedy on Saturday night. It’s not Jesus comedy or church comedy. It’s not vulgar either.

It’s a comedy about life that happens to be delivered by two comedians who happen to be Christians — Robert G. Lee and Kenn Kington.

And I’m thankful they are who they are because, like me, they are fellow believers who know that they are broken, who stand in need of grace and who understand that without a little laughter, a little joy, the darkness can be too much to carry for an entire season.

Maybe you’re not ready for Lent, either. Maybe you’re going to give it your best effort anyway — I am.

But maybe you need a little encouragement, a little levity in a time of heaviness. If so, consider yourself invited to laugh with me Saturday night at Kirkwood Church, 6101 Cortez Road W. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and you can purchase tickets at the door or online at biggreenchurch.org

I’m working on my patience, too. I got a good two-thirds of the way to my daughter’s school one recent morning before I muttered something very un-pastor-like about the driver in the left-hand lane going a rousing 26 mph.

I’m a work in progress. You probably are laughing at me right now. That’s OK. Our faith is serious stuff and sometimes we’ve got to laugh a little so that we can keep on going toward Jesus.

The Rev. Dr. Hope Lee, lead pastor of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church and The Well, can be reached at 941-794-6229, hope@kpcbradenton.org or biggreenchurch.org. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald written by local clergy members.

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