Lent and Friends

One should never give up friends for lent.

Possibly this should be rephrased: Spending time with friends can be a positive Lenten discipline. Friends can point us to God in ways that solitary disciplines cannot. Friends remind us of the grace and mercy of God. Friends are evidence of things unseen. They remind us of the ways faith really works in the world every day.

I’ve said before that one cannot be a Christian alone. Christianity is a faith of individuals who are called to live in community. There are a number of ways of describing this community of faith with “the body of Christ” and “the communion of saints” being two very common phrases. “The body of Christ” is a biblical phrase — look in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 for more about the body of Christ. The communion of saints is a phrase from the apostles’ creed. Both the body of Christ and the communion of saints extend through space and time. This large community of faith does not only include people we count as friends, but also people we don’t like much. And while I think spending time with friends can be a positive Lenten discipline, it seems that spending quality, life-giving time with any member of the body of Christ can be a positive Lenten discipline. We need each other. Community is not optional.

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