For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? – Mark 8:36
A strain of Lenten traditions calls on three disciplines: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Many focus on the “fast” of Lent, giving something up. Others may look to the “prayer” component of Lent, taking on a different dimension in their conversations with God. Still others may commit to “almsgiving” with a sense of expansiveness in their generosity.
In so doing, some will emerge from their fast with a new relationship to the thing they’d given up. Some will feel a new connection to God from their deeper prayer life. Others will feel more able to give than ever before.
Jesus’ question in Mark 8:36 is key to deepening our Lenten commitments, because he calls on us to consider all three disciplines at once. How? Because fasting from the profits of the world is too hard to do without fervent prayer and radical generosity.
Profits mean so little on an eternal timeline. So why cling to them? Why not give them up? For, in so many cases, we climb upon the backs of others in order to reap our short-term rewards. But at what personal cost?
Here we might draw on the wisdom of the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., who says:
“Look to the trees. They need light to survive, right? So they grow leaves to turn that light into energy.
“But as the leaves grow, notice something; they leave room for each other. Watch the leaves—they never steal each other’s light. Instead, they make room for one another.”
For today, let’s look to the trees and ask: what profits in our lives come at the expense of someone else? Can we give those up, for once and for all?
Make room for someone else and get your life. In Jesus’ name.
Source of all that is: help us to synthesize your grace into the power to change the world. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.