Beyond the buff Jesus: New normal
by Sara-Dianne Jones
The season of Lent is upon us once again. I must sound like a broken record during this time of year, repeating over and over again that Lent is my favorite liturgical season and that Ash Wednesday is my favorite church holiday.
How warped must I be, right? How crazy for my favorite church holiday to be the day that I am reminded of my mortality? “From dust you were formed, and to dust you shall return.”
I may be crazy to find such comfort in a day that is so solemn, but in my eyes, Ash Wednesday, really Lent as a whole, holds the beauty that makes the rest of the year so complete. It is during Lent that the masks that we put up – that we spend weeks, months, years of our lives perfecting – are torn away, leaving us at our most vulnerable. It is during Lent that we are forced to confront the wrongs in this world, those around the globe, across the country, next door to our homes, and even those that we pray that no one will ever find out about, those wrongs that we have tried to forget.
Lent is an opportunity to take on a new spiritual discipline or give up something that interferes with your relationship with God.
But what happens after Lent is over, once the resurrection has happened and Jesus has ascended to heaven? Do we just go back to normal? Maybe things do go back to normal. After all, normal is easy. But normal is not all that great.
No, normal in today’s world is looking at the newspaper and seeing that another person has been shot and killed. Normal in today’s world is knowing that hunger isn’t something that is far away, because you can go to any elementary, middle, or high school and find children whose only meals come from the cafeteria. Normal in today’s world is hearing that you shouldn’t feed the hungry, care for the sick, or clothe the naked because they should be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, out of the despair in which they are living.
Is this the normal that we should be living? I don’t think so.
Maybe our new normal should be loving each other and the world. The new normal would be a lot harder than this one that we’re living. It would mean having to get out of our comfort zones and noticing the hard stuff in this world. It would mean taking a stand, even when it isn’t popular.
Coming up with a new normal will take longer than the forty days of Lent. But something’s gotta give because this normal that the world is based upon is killing people. And, though I’m not sure of a lot of things, I am sure that Jesus wouldn’t have wanted to see his people dying of hunger when there is more than enough food to go around.
And I’m sure that Jesus wouldn’t have wanted for his people to be so much more invested in killing each other than in loving each other. Jesus wanted us to love each other. And loving each other involves taking care of each other. So let’s take care of those that God loves. We are called to be disciples, and as hard as it is, Jesus wouldn’t have asked us to do something that we weren’t meant to do.
Our masks are being torn away. The ashes have been spread, and the suffering is real. Our vulnerability is becoming more and more clear. It is time to find a new normal. During this season of Lent, I hope that we will all take advantage of this opportunity and begin to find what our new normal will look like.