Friday, February 29, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 21

Day 21 - Only run your washing machine when you have a full load.

On this 21st weekday of Lent we come to the second half of our 40 days in the wilderness. We've learned and are continuing to learn we can take steps, both practical and spiritual, to reduce our own individual carbon footprints and so act as better stewards of the Earth that God has entrusted to our care. Like most of not all good Lenten disciplines, we are asked to look inward in order to strengthen our outward faith. The three disciplines that we are called to in the Lenten Bidding at Ash Wednesday are fasting, prayer, and alms-giving. The first two are inward, and the third is explicitly outward. But notice that all of these are about our own selves. They aren't directed at other people; and if you read the Ash Wednesday Litany of Penance you see that we are asked to collectively and individually examine what we have done or not done to be Christ's body in the world. Not anyone else, but ourselves.

I'm reminded of all this because of an article in The Atlantic that has just been published. It's called "God's Country" and it's a report on how Christians and Muslims are interacting with each other in Nigeria. It has both poignant moments of reconciliation, as well as very disturbing accounts of violence. Fr. Jake has first reported on it and what was reported that Archbishop Peter Akinola, the Anglican Primate of Nigeria, said and perhaps did in response to a massacre first perpetrated by Muslims in a certain town in Nigeria called Yelwa. Fr. Jake gets a lot of traffic and his commenters are very vocal. I don't normally post about matters in the worldwide Anglican Communion because Jake and others do it so well already. But as I read the comments on this piece earlier this morning, I felt called to comment. Here's what I said:

On this Lenten Friday, I find myself wondering. ++Akinola will surely have to face his God at some point. I just read the article and it *is* disturbing., to say the least. But my comment is at least #62. Most of the prior ones seem to be condemning ++Akinola and/or ++Rowan for not investigating or something. But my question is, how am I , how are *we*, implicated in this? What is *my* sin, what is *our* sin, that needs to be confessed? ++Akinola will meet his Maker, and I'm confident that God's justice will eventually prevail. I can't do anything about that one way or another. But I can examine my own heart. What I see there is some smug complacency on my part. I don't know about anybody else, but reading about the violence *on both sides* is eye-opening and heart-rending for me. I have no answers, only questions and only prayer, at this moment.

I encourage you to read all the comments and the original article itself. Draw your own conclusions. But I cannot do anything really about the sins of another. That, as I said, is up to God. I can only examine my own heart and mind and see where I have fallen short, where I am separated from God and from others and from the created order and from my own inward self. It seems to me that's what Lent is and has to be about. When there is injustice in the world, surely we must call attention to it and surely we must struggle against it. When murder is done in the name of Christ, sure that's wrong. At the same time, it's so easy on my part to say, "How horrible - what a terrible thing" and neglect the inward inquiry into where I am sinning as well. that's what I can do something about. That's what observing a holy Lent is all about. Oddly enough, in Lent it is all about me! And it is for each of us. That's what I, what all of us, have to be about as we prepare for the great celebration to come.

Grant us, O Lord our Strength, a true love of your holy Name; so that, trusting in your grace, we may fear no earthly evil, nor fix our hearts on earthly goods, but may rejoice in your full salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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