Walk Humbly with God
By Art Smith, Council of Twelve
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your God in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your God who sees in secret will reward you. —Matthew 6:1–6 NRSV, adapted
Growing up in Community of Christ, I don’t remember ever hearing anyone talk about Lent at church. Living in French-speaking, mainly Roman Catholic Quebec, Canada, Lent was a common cultural practice. I had friends who gave up certain items or practices for Lent, or who changed their diets for the weeks leading up to Easter. In the past decade or more since Community of Christ adopted the Revised Common Lectionary and has become more connected to the Christian calendar, I’ve even found Community of Christ folks sacrificing for Lent.
Last year, during Lent, whenever I ate in a restaurant where tipping was routine, I practiced extravagant tipping. This became my own Lenten practice of almsgiving. I would also offer quiet words of prayer for the person who had served me. Sometimes the service wasn’t that good, but I would still leave a tip that would be much more than usual. I was never around to see any reaction.
This generous tipping became my fast. During Lent I found myself focusing on people who live dependent on low restaurant wages and tips. Many of those who served me were immigrants, single mothers, and people who struggle just to get by.
I think the Lenten practice I chose helped to wake me up to pay more attention to ALL the people around me and what they are up against. Lent helped me focus on the Worth of All Persons.
Prayer for Peace
Generous God, help us choose our Lenten fast wisely—either to give up or to give.
Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Sit quietly and sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.
Today, God, I will study the issues involved in supporting an initiative to raise the minimum or sustainable wage in my community.