Lent is the season we reprogram our spiritual GPS

As we begin our journey into Lent this year we do so surrounded by the sound and fury of division and polarization and a global pandemic threatening to turn us all into bread of anxiety addicts.

We are all scholars of our own story and of other stories we learn through love. [1] We are striving to share what we know — the power of God’s love, justice and compassion — in a news cycle dominated by other stories: stories of exclusion, judgment and condemnation and the values of greed, graft and corruption.

Walter Wink — the 20th century biblical scholar and theologian of “Engaging the Powers” fame —
brilliantly summarized what it is we’re up against in this 1999 summary of what he called “the myth of redemptive violence:”

“The myth of redemptive violence is, in short,
nationalism become absolute.
This myth speaks for God;
it does not listen for God to speak.
It invokes the sovereignty of God as its own;
it does not entertain the prophetic possibility of radical judgment by God.
It misappropriates the language, symbols, and scriptures of Christianity.
It does not seek God in order to change;
it embraces God in order to prevent change.
Its God is not the impartial ruler of all nations
but a tribal god worshiped as an idol.
Its metaphor is not the journey but the fortress.
Its symbol is not the cross but the crosshairs of a gun.
Its offer is not forgiveness but victory.
Its good news is not the unconditional love of enemies
but their final elimination.
Its salvation is not a new heart but a successful foreign policy.
It is blasphemous. It is idolatrous.” [2]

The bad news is that is what we’re up against.
The good news is that we’re not up against it alone.

Lent is the season we reprogram our spiritual GPS. It is the time we commit ourselves to realigning ourselves with the grain of the universe which is love in order to share what we know,
what we value, and to spin a force of the Spirit that reaches back to ancient campfires and out to a tomorrow we cannot yet imagine a tomorrow where the myth of redemptive violence is banished and the reign of God’s love, justice and compassion has come on earth as it is in heaven.

There are moments when that can seem like an impossible dream and yet here’s one more thing Walter Wink wrote:

“History belongs to the intercessors, who believe the future into being.”

Strengthened by our stories — our own stories and the stories we learn through love — may we be given the grace to believe that future into being as we become the change we want to see in the world.

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell, Canon for Engagement Across Difference: Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles


[1] Bishop Steven Charleston
[2] Walter Wink, The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium

One comment

  1. This is really well said. Thank you. I am keeping the special nugget. Lent is the season we realign ourselves with the grain of the universe which is love…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s