“Nerve us up”

Two texts for Lenten resolve

by Ken Sehested
Shrove Tuesday 2021

This past Sunday one of our members, Stan Wilson, offered the “call to the table” in our congregation’s zoom worship screen-gathering. He led with a suggestion that was equivalent, in my hearing, to a thunderclap.

“How about for Lent this year we give up Donald Trump?”

It was a table invitation (we celebrate the Eucharist every week) and an altar call rolled into one. And it certainly had my name on it.

The last four years in the US have been a national demolition derby, a Three-Stooge-esque comedy of incompetence and disrepute, a racketeer’s paradise and grifter’s playpen—only with real-world torment, particularly for those here and abroad with little shelter from the abuse.

At the conclusion of the Senate’s farcical impeachment verdict, I felt like breaking big things and throwing little ones.

I need a decompression. Stan’s suggestion came at the right moment.

This does not mean (and what follows are my commentary) retreating into a shell of blissful ignorance and private cheeriness. Nor will I become a devotee of the Biden administration’s governing posture, though nonetheless it is a great relief.

What I will do, though, is follow Frederick Douglass’ admonition: “Let us look at the other side [of the rule of injustice] and see if there are not some things to cheer our heart and nerve us up anew in the good work of emancipation.”

In his long, parting soliloquy recorded in John’s Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to “be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (16:33). The predicate to this encouragement, though, was the warning that “in the world you will face persecution.” That reality has not changed.

Even now we must “see if there are not some things to cheer our hearts and nerve us up anew.” This year these texts will frame my Lenten prayers.

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©ken sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org