Lent begins…Call the Streetsweepers

Dear Friends of Second Church,

I’m told that on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning, a small line of police cars, followed by a long line of street sweepers, announces its presence.

“It is now after midnight. Mardi Gras over. Mardi Gras is over,” says an officer with a megaphone.

I’m not so interested in the person with the megaphone. But the street sweeper intrigues me.

Maybe some people seem to resist the idea that the party’s over…even for a while. Endless festivity seems to define their days.

More likely, though, we find ourselves caught up in a parade of endless activity — places to be, deadlines to meet, reports to get in, meals to get on the table, little people to drop off and pick up, CVS trips to work in. It may not be a delightful trip to Mardi Gras, but, for certain, it’s a whirl, and it doesn’t seem to stop.

Is it any wonder that so many of us long for that grand, sweeping, cleansing, clarifying, simplifying force that blazes a trail through our lives, and starts to put things right again?

When life suddenly seems overwhelming, is it really that somehow, life itself has changed, or is that somehow, something inside us has changed? What is it that will bring us back to ourselves again, able to live within life’s changes and still feel like ourselves?

For the Church, part of the answer is Lent.

Lent is a season when the Church becomes deliberately more serious, more reflective, and even somber. It’s the moment when we send the street sweepers through the neighborhood, seeking to bring back a sense of order, a sense of what is real, and to see underneath the distractions of the moment.

It is a chance to ask ourselves, and God, what matters most, and whom it is that we are called to be, and then what the next steps are. And it’s a chance to find new strength and focus to make that happen.

It is when the party may stop, but quite possibly, the joy finally begins.

I hope we will all find ways to seek that clarity and that joy in the weeks ahead.
See you in church,

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