Marietta First United Methodist Church

Spring Cleaning: Clearing the Clutter in the Season of Lent

By Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults

Lately the weather has felt like spring, and I have been doing some cleaning both at home and at work. Sometimes, you get a little dirty in the process of cleaning, as deep cleansing can be a messy business. Yesterday, I was trying to clean up my office by going through the piles of mail, folders, magazine articles, pamphlets and the like that have accumulated on every flat surface. In so doing, I kicked up a few dust bunnies. I have a terrible habit of saving way too much paper, because when I read something inspiring, or when I come across an interesting idea for a senior adult program or a day trip destination, I want to hang on to the pertinent information, and keep it handy. If I run across a quote, for example, my tendency is to jot it on a piece of scrap paper in order to potentially incorporate it later as an illustration for teaching or preaching. The trouble is, the momentary inspiration tends to get lost in the stacks of clutter. Of course I could create a filing system, but when I place things in files, they become out of my sight and therefore out of my mind. Nevertheless, there comes a time when I must examine the clutter before me and make a decision.

For me, that is what the season of Lent is all about; taking stock of our lives in order to determine what is valuable or constructive and what is harmful or no longer useful for our journey of faith. Making these choices can be challenging, even messy. What do we need to discard in order to draw more fully from the wellspring of life? Which habits or patterns might we need to discontinue in order to make more time or allow more space for the life of Christ to flourish within us?  Hebrews 12:1 encourages to “lay aside (clear out, throw away) every weight and the sin that clings so closely.” Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, “the spring cleaning season”. I am reminded, with the ritual of the imposition of ashes in which we participate on that day, that we must get a little dirty to become truly clean.