Giving Up. Taking Up

Eventually, something gives.
It’s not a matter of if, but when.

On Ash Wednesday, I challenged the congregation to consider this unique and shared journey that we make toward Easter. I called upon us to embrace Lent as a season of serious reflection and spiritual renewal, as we make ready the head, heart, and wholeness of Soul to celebrate the cosmic mystery of Resurrection.

Some will give up something…
As I explained that night, many will choose to “give up” something for lent. Be it chocolate, sodas, technologies…etc. Many will choose to remove themselves from particular pleasures or indulgences for a period of time, in order to take a long, hard look at their impact, and the kind of dependencies they create deep within. Choosing to rid oneself of comforts from time to time can be a very healthy way to cleanse the body and detox the Soul.

[Incidentally, I once jokingly announced to a Catholic friend during my seminary days that I was giving up asceticism for lent. She didn’t think it was funny.]

Some will take up something…
For others, Lent provides an opportunity not only to give up something, but also to take up something. Many will choose to take up new habits, disciplines and practices that are meant to heighten our attentiveness and deepen our commitment to the One whose death and resurrection make it all matter.

This year, I chose to do both.
To give up and to take up.

One of them isn’t off to the best start.
On Ash Wednesday, I decided to give up Starbucks.
(Very) early the next morning, I amended my ascetic aspiration to “greatly reduce.”

This past Sunday was not a Starbucks-Free day. It was early, and I needed the boost.
I ordered a quad. That’s right. A quad. That’s four shots of espresso in a cup of coffee.
In other words, five cups of coffee in one.
I know! Right? No judging.
[When I ordered that same drink in Orlando, the Barista would say, “Man! Gonna be some sermon today!”]

On the way into the church, my hands were full. Umbrella. Sermon art. 2 Devices. As I negotiated the keys to unlock the door, the coffee (which cost more than my first car) toppled over and fell (in slow motion) to the ground.

As I stood there looking at the upside down cup, all I could think about was the parable of it all. Isn’t that what it sometimes takes? Tragically, it sometimes takes a spill, a loss, a mess for us to recognize the things that need to be drawn out of us.

Eventually, something gives.
It’s not a matter of if, but when.

But, that is what the Lenten journey is all about. Lent is about deliberately yielding ourselves to the cleansing power of God’s love moving within us, revealing hidden dependencies and toppling over all overpriced and underperforming sources of hope.

Shaun King
Senior Pastor
Johns Creek Baptist Church

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