Duke: Graceful time, graceful prayer: A meditation on keeping a Holy Lent

The Rev. Brandon Duke

Saint Julian's Episcopal Church

Sometimes, prayer is like an inside joke between you and God. An inside joke between lovers -- A pillow talk intimacy -- A full disclosure of full-er grace. Jesus doesn't ask us to dress for success in order to please others, but to please him. "Why are you spending all your time trying to impress this group or that group," he might ask? "Why are you defending the indefensible? When you give, when you pray, when you fast give all of it … your whole lot and life of it … to me. Loose yourself in me," says Jesus.

The Season of Lent is a time to re-order one's life; a time to think where one's priorities might lay. J. Neil Alexander once wrote, "I used to believe that the important thing was what I believed about God. I have discovered that the really important thing is what God believes about me. I used to believe that the purpose of being a Christian was to learn to live a good and righteous life. I now believe that I am good and righteous, not of my own doing but as a gift of grace by faith in Jesus Christ. I used to believe that if I said my prayers and lived an obedient life, when I died I would inherit eternal life. Now I believe that eternal life begins at the font and goes on forever. My experience of God has shifted from fear to love, from conditional to unconditional, from judgment to mercy. I used to believe that being a Christian was about me … I've discovered … that being a Christian is about God. That's grace."

Grace. Maybe that's at the heart of our inside joke between the two lovers -- A history of giving and receiving grace in one another so that grace might be extended out and about to others. May Lent this year be for us graceful -- further learning how to give it, how to take it. Remember, don't flaunt it. Instead, let it be an inside joke between you and the Divine.

The Rev. Brandon Duke proudly serves Saint Julian's Episcopal Church in Douglasville.

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