Voices: Is Lent still a thing? Hope in a time of pandemic

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My Sunday school class is one of the Lord’s greatest blessings in my life. So, the decision not to meet as a group this week was not one I took lightly.

Every Sunday, we sit in a room together and share the hope of the gospel. We study this hope in Scripture. We pray for those in our lives and world who are hungry for hope. We discuss how as a class and church we can share this hope in the world. I often leave my class challenged, and I always leave reminded of the hope we share.

Not being able to hear the voices of my class over the coffee maker or see their smiles when I attempt a joke this week made me feel hopeless. When will we eat Sister Schubert rolls together again? How long do I have to wait to hear those I love flip through the thin paper pages of their Bibles? Will it be months before the metal chairs scrape on the tile floors as we scoot closer together in a circle?

Getting the word out I didn’t want to send

I needed to email my class to say we wouldn’t meet this week. I needed to let them know, just as our church decided not to gather for worship on Sunday, we should not gather.

Wednesday night, I was on the phone with a good friend asking what in the world I should say beyond a mere “meeting canceled.” He replied: “Maddie, what people really need right now is hope. Say something hopeful.”

Several days ago, a professor reminded us we are in the season of Lent, a reminder we Baptists especially need to hear.

We are at the point in the church calendar when we actively expect Easter. We live expectantly by fasting and repenting. We recognize redemption has come, and the sacrifice was necessary. We recognize redemption has come but not yet in full.

Sending hope

In this hope, I wrote:

Remember, this is Lent. Lent is a season of prayerful reflection; so, do just that.

As a friend of mine recently said, “The only way to know the joy of the Feast of Easter is to fast in the 40 days.”

Contemplate what it means to practice Lent. Contemplate what it means to fast, even and maybe especially in a pandemic. Not just fasting because the grocery store ran out of apples for the day, but fasting for our redemption and the redemption of the world.

What do we need to fast from so that we might fast for?

In essence, fasting recognizes we must repent. What do we as individuals, the church and humanity need to repent of?

We have not experienced the full redemption of God. Fasting recognizes this truth.

Lent recognizes that we wait. We wait and we pray and we strive toward faithfulness. We wait, not knowing when the pandemic will end. We wait, not knowing when Christ will return.

However, we do not wait sitting idly by and twiddling our God-made thumbs. We wait on our knees in prayer. We wait in thoughtful contemplation. We wait in giving of ourselves to each other and the world.

We wait actively, knowing redemption will come in fullness.

We have received a taste of hope. We share this hope. We wait for this hope. Easter is coming. Hope has come and is coming. Let’s practice Lent in hope.

Maddie Rarick is a student at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary. She teaches the graduate student Sunday school class at First Baptist Church in Waco.

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