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Suddenly, it seems, we stand on the threshold of Lent. Who has had time to prepare? I realize I am speaking for myself here. Between planning for travel, re-orienting from different time zones and calculating what the weather will be like tomorrow or next week even if I’m not leaving town, I could easily say I am not ready for the upcoming 40 days. And yet I have only to look at Psalm 50, the psalm response in the lectionary readings for today, that states clearly a pattern for correct practice, a way of living that does not change but only deepens with determination and desire.

The psalmist speaks for God and says, This is what I want from you. Offer me a grateful heart. Fulfill the vows that you have made…I’ve made my case, here’s what I want, a sacrifice of thankfulness in all that honors me. (Ancient Songs Sung Anew: the Psalms as Poetry, p.125)

It seems to me that the world is desperately in need of kindness and positive behavior so that a Lent during which we live in right relationship, not only with God but with our neighbor, is the perfect choice. (How could we love one without the other?) And it is clearly a choice. We cannot honor God and leave our neighbor in the lurch. It will be necessary, I think, to remind ourselves of the practice of inclusive love several times a day – maybe when we look at our watch or phone with the question, “What time is it?” Maybe it will be enough for some to rise with the sun and offer the day in praise and good works to God as the light returns. You know yourself. Do it your way.

But just one more necessary component: do it all, in whatever way, with a smile.