The journey to Easter

Published April 4, 2019

By Tom Campbell

by Tom Campbell, Producer and Moderator of NC SPIN, April 3, 2019.

At long last it is Spring, when daylight hours grow longer, temperatures turn warmer and flowers burst into bloom. The Anglo-Saxon word for Spring was “lencten.” We shortened the word to Lent, a season of 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Christians set aside this time for self-examination, reflection, repentance and preparation for Easter. Many sacrifice by giving up something or volunteering, essentially giving themselves to others.

My Lenten journey began when my pastor, LuAnn Charlton, asked the Ash Wednesday congregation to recite The Lord’s Prayer as written by the congregation of Foundry United Methodist Church, wording that is different from the familiar version. I was stopped abruptly when I came to the passage, “Give us today our daily bread, remind us to take only our share.”

At that moment I took the first Lenten step of awareness. Questions flooded my consciousness. What is my share? Is my share more or less than your share? Who decides if my share is “fair?” As a boy the concept of sharing was pretty simple. When sharing a Pepsi with another, the best way to ensure fairness was for one to pour the drink into a cup and the other person chose whether to take the bottle or the cup. Fair shares aren’t so easily determined in adulthood.

These deliberations led me to other questions about justice and privilege. Simultaneously, the news cycle was filled with the stories about the rich and powerful who paid millions of dollars, even lying and cheating, to get their children admitted to elite colleges, filling me with thoughts about selfishness, greed, arrogance, wealth and influence. I’ve never come close to approaching those extremes but I am certain I have played the privilege card in my life.

Remorse and confession followed, the knowledge that I’ve not done all I could to show kindness and generosity to others. I hate being told I am wrong; even worse is acknowledging that truth to myself.

It’s hard to know where confession ends and repentance begins, but one follows the other like the day follows night. The best definition I’ve heard of repentance is the act of turning away from one thing and turning toward something else. But what?

Thankfully, there is still time remaining before Easter, but here is where these swirling thoughts and emotions have taken me thus far. Awareness heightens my realization that, like everyone born in this nation, I am blessed. And for whatever the reasons, a further acknowledgement that I have more blessings than many others. I don’t believe this means I must sell everything and become poor, but there has always been an acknowledgement that those with greater wherewithal have a corresponding greater responsibility to share more with those who have less. I hope we haven’t become so greedy, so wealthy and so callused that we no longer hold this moral imperative to be truth.

My journey to Easter has resulted in the commitment to do more for others. I do know I will never again read The Lord’s Prayer the same way.

Next year I’m tempted to just celebrate Fat Tuesday and skip Ash Wednesday altogether. I know this exercise has been valuable, but all this mental wrestling sure has made my poor brain tired.