I find one of the most astonishing things about the Bible to be that, every once in a while, I can still be surprised by it.
It can be through re-reading a passage that I haven’t read in a long time or through listening to it read with perhaps a different emphasis than I’ve heard before or through the context that it’s being read in. For whatever reason, there are times in our lives when the old familiar words let rip into our consciousness in new and exciting ways.
This weekend, I was reading Evening Prayer with the small community of Scottish Episcopalians who gather together on a Saturday evening for the short online service. And when the time came for the Epistle, I found that the words of St Paul, words that I must have heard and read dozens of times, were still surprising to me.
However that may be, let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God has called you. This is my rule in all the churches. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.
Or to put it in the words of a great twenty-first century orator: “Baby, you were born this way.”
Lent is a time of self-reflection, of growth, of change.
But what is it that we hope to change into?
God will be who God will be, a priest said this week*. God is full of mystery and beauty and surprise and even some unwelcome stuff that we can’t cope with, he said, but we love Him and trust Him and we’re with Him anyway. God will be who God will be.
And if that’s true of God, would God expect anything less of me, His child, who was formed in His image and likeness?
I will be who I will be.
What does God ask of us during Lent?
Not to seek to change what He has made, but to see the potential in it. Not to think about what we could have been, but to fulfill who we are. Not to become someone else, but to be the very best version of ourselves we can be.
Because the promise of Lent is this: that our God is a God who made us and died for us and loves us.
Just exactly as we are.
*With apologies to the Reverend AKM Adam and the line from his sermon for Lent 3 that I have, with permission, stolen.