A Different Kind of Suffering
by Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
People often associate Lent with suffering. Our modern ears hear “suffer” and usually define the word to mean “pain.” But “suffer” also means “to allow.” Jesus said, “Suffer the children to come unto me,” that is, ALLOW the children to come to me. And we’ve all heard the phrase that one doesn’t “suffer fools gladly,” meaning, one doesn’t welcome (or wish to ALLOW) foolishness. As we approach the Season of Lent, let’s focus on allowance rather than pain.
At Sunshine Cathedral we don’t encourage you to make yourself miserable for a few weeks. We don’t ask you to give up chocolate or soda or to refrain from eating meat on Fridays. Of course, neither do we suggest that you eat pounds of chocolate, drink gallons of soda, or feast on meat without vegetables; after all, we want you to be healthy! But Lent isn’t about missing Snickers bars for a few weeks. Lent is about “allowing” yourself to grow spiritually, to learn, to experience more hope and peace in your life. It is a season of spiritual reflection.
Traditional Lenten disciplines include being intentional about weekly worship, being a bit more generous (“almsgiving” they used to call it), and daily prayer and meditation. And those are good practices, but they aren’t “tasks” that one performs begrudgingly out of duty. They are joyful practices meant to help you “allow” yourself to feel the presence of God within you.
So, this Lent at Sunshine Cathedral, you won’t hear about guilt and sin and shame and self-denial, but you will be encouraged to allow yourself to shine, to be your best self, to be happy and hopeful and full of life.
Suffer the Sunshine Cathedral to rejoice! That is to say, this Lent, may we who make up the Sunshine Cathedral allow ourselves to experience the joy of self-celebration and spiritual growth. Amen.