Sunday, March 09, 2014

Lent and taxes

So yeah, I just noticed that Lent and tax season coincide.

Repent. Or something.

I really, really, really need to read a book that will change my attitude toward money. Get out of the shame/fear/loathing/guilt thing where money symbolizes so much, and go to the matter-of-fact, deal-with-it, I-make-choices place.

Like reading a book could do that.

"One does not live by bread alone," said this morning's Gospel. I am reading Anthony Trollope's "Barchester Towers" which is about 19th century Anglican clergy maneuvering for power and preferments (i.e., positions with income attached to them). What they really want--the bishop, the archdeacon, the chaplain, the preceptor, a couple of wives and one widow, is to be confirmed in their own self-importance, or more charitably, to be affirmed in their sense of what the world is and how it is surely moving towards what it ought to be. Trollope being Trollope, it will not come out exactly how anyone wants it to be.

It is a hard thing to give up--what you think the world ought to be and your own important role in getting it there. How I think things ought to be places me in control of my destiny, my income and my taxes. But life is what happens for real, even while you're imagining something else.

This is true on so many levels. Kids head into a basketball tournament dreaming of championships, but mostly fail to bring home the trophy. The sound heard from the real choir is not the one imagined in the director's head when programming the piece. The life you live is not the one you imagined for yourself. Maybe it's better, but maybe it's lonelier.

Also from the morning's lessons, this time from Romans 5:
 If, because of the one man's trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
I often feel, reading Paul, that all his drawing of parallels between old covenants and new, Adam's sin and ours, inhabits a logical world of its own and that his whole framing of the issue does not have much to do with my experience--despite many years of having it explained to me in Lutheran schools and churches. Paul's framework is the Jewish rabbinical teaching that he has given up or revised because of the new life he found in Jesus. I'm in the grip of other things--happily-ever-after fairy tales, the American Dream, family life in all its variety, politics, and some rather fuzzy ideas about living for art. 

Yet like Paul, "much more surely" will I exercise dominion in my life if I do so through "the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness" found in the life and death of Jesus Christ. 

In Lent (and taxes) I don't feel powerful. I don't feel in control. 

"Jesus walked that lonesome valley," sang my youth choir this morning. "Jesus bore the cross to save us." And they sang, "We will take our cross and follow." 

So I'm repenting, giving up--to make room for grace, righteousness, and new life. 

No comments: