We are in the year 2021. It was the highly anticipated destination after having gone through what was a tumultuous 2020 for most of the world. I recall a phrase I heard repeatedly: “Ugh, I can’t wait for this year to be over.” Or, “I’m so ready for next year!” Or some version of this sentiment, as if our lives would suddenly reset or magically shift as the clock struck midnight. Perhaps some of us may have shifted our attitudes with the new year, and perceive the year is indeed going better. Or armed with a vaccination for COVID-19 we have some semblance of hope that things will be better, and indeed, some situations may have truly evolved for the better. But it wasn’t just the global pandemic we were learning to navigate that made it a particularly difficult year for most. It was the year, with everything that unfolded in our society, that exposed what we are about, where our values lie, and what lies at the core of our hearts. It was easy to point fingers. It was much more difficult to do the hard work of self-examination, reflection, and asking the questions, “What is my contribution to the wreckage or the goodness?” and “How does my story weave into this narrative?”
The season of Lent is just that, it is a time for self-examination. It is a time to call out those things in your life that diminish the image of God or are outright destructive to yourself, those around you, and God’s creation. This is not the time to bury your head in the sand and wait for things to get better. You must do the hard work of self-examination, and we have to be brutally honest with ourselves.
There remain things of beauty in this world, and there are things in the world that have gone awry. We have each contributed in some way to both be it unintentionally or directly. If we do the hard work of journeying through the crazy beautiful mess of our lives and the world, then we would be better equipped to speak truth and love to those who dare to steal, kill, and destroy the inherent worth and goodness that lies within us, within each and every single one of us. Perhaps that is what Paul had in mind when he included this “hymn” in his letter to the church in Philippi. The early church sang it, perhaps daily, not unlike the way some hymns stay on our lips and in our hearts practically everyday. It served as a reminder to the early church, and it is reminder to us today to live in humility, to not serve our own interests, but to serve the interest of others that they too can have a life that is full in Christ Jesus who emptied himself for us.
Written by Rev. Rahel Lee-Yoo
I collected stories about how faith kept people moving forward and put them together as a devotional for this Lenten season.
You can download the entire devotional here: