You’re downtown with friends on a Friday night when you happen to walk past Bonta and notice all the people inside laughing and enjoying cones of creamy gelato. Your friend says, “Hey! Let’s get some Bonta!” Your mouth starts watering, and everything in you says, “YES! BONTA!”
And then it hits you. Lent started two days ago and you made the pious decision to give up Bonta – and all desserts – for Lent. It is the fast you chose to remind yourself of the ways you have turned from God and to help you focus on returning to your spiritual path. You were also kind of hoping your pants might fit a little looser at the end of the 40 days.
But would God really care if you just had one tiny sample of gelato? I mean, surely God would understand. After all, it’s Bonta!
In high school I decided I was going to give up chocolate for Lent. Somehow I made it through the forty days but I’ve never given anything up for Lent again. I discovered Lent isn’t about growing closer to God by punishing myself. Instead, I am learning Lent is a gift; a season in which to practice experiencing God in new ways.
This Lenten season our congregation is invited to this practice through reading, “An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor. As a mother of four, I don’t get much time for pleasure or even work related reading. Somehow over the years, even with all the distractions of my life, I pick this book up again and again, soaking in the beauty of the words and putting into practice the ideas within its pages.
It is in this book I heard that when people want to know more about God, the son of God tells them to pay attention to the “lilies of the field and the birds of the air, to women kneading bread and workers lining up for their pay.” I discovered that by paying attention to my scars, to the wrinkles on my knuckles, the freckles on my fingers, I can begin to experience reverence. For the first time I heard a pastor say “I think it is important to pray naked in front of a full-length mirror especially when you are full of loathing for your body – because “God loves that flesh and blood no matter what kind of shape it is in.” It is in the pages of this book I read stories of people in scripture who encountered God in the wilderness, in another person, in their daily chore of carrying water, and even, maybe especially, in their pain. The gentle words of Barbara Brown Taylor woven with stories from biblical scripture invite us to discover altars everywhere we go in nearly everything we do.
Throughout the season of Lent you are invited to read this book and meet with others for a simple meal, reflection, practice, and worship in a small group setting. The dates are as follows:
Tuesdays, “Soup, Spirituality, and Small Groups” 12pm-1:30pm: March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9.
Wednesdays, “Soup, Spirituality, and Small Groups” 5:30pm – 7pm: March 13, 20, 27, April 3, 10.
You are encouraged to pre-register for either a Wednesday or Tuesday group. Registration will begin February 18th and continue through March 10th. Your registration fee of $30 includes each of your meals for five weeks and your book. If you just want to purchase a book the cost is $11. As always though, pay if and what you can. Everyone is invited and we want you to join us no matter what! Kids are free and encouraged to join us for our meal together. There will be childcare provided after the meal.
You can register in the commons area after worship on Sundays or by calling the church office.
I really hope you will consider not giving up chocolate for Lent. I can tell you from experience, you will just get grouchy and your pants will not be noticeably looser at the end of your fast. Instead, keep enjoying the finer things of life and join us for a season of experiencing God in surprising and fresh ways.
For the love of all things chocolate,