While sitting in the historic sanctuary at First UMC in Alexandria Tuesday near the end of a two-day seminar with all clergy under appointment in our conference, my phone started blowing up with the news of Jimmy Graham being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Based on the reaction that I heard from the boys on WWL and their callers yesterday afternoon, you’d think that we’d better start stocking up on non-perishable goods in the bunker because the world is about to come to an end.

As I reflected further on this news, and the reaction thereto (and in the interest of full disclosure, not everyone thought it a disaster – especially one in our midst who texted me yesterday, “Great Move,”) I began to think about what I really know about Jimmy Graham, the Saints, the Seahawks, and whether or not I really can say whether or not it is a good move or not. The truth is, until doing some research for this story, I had no idea what he looked like without the helmet. Really, if we are to get down to brass tacks, I seriously doubt 99% of those who are commenting on and evaluating this situation know any of the parties well enough to truly make an informed comment.

What does this have to do with Lent and the Church? Well, it’s not just our favorite athletes and teams that we don’t know nearly as well as we may think.

There’s not a one of us that doesn’t get caught up in so much of life that we don’t from time-to-time get caught up in ourselves and our situations. As much as we would like to think otherwise, we can lose sight of our true selves and our need for divine grace, mercy, and love.

The season of Lent, a gift given to us from the earliest church, affords us all the opportunity to return to our true selves. Lent provides us an intentional, set-aside time to cleanse and be cleansed, a chance to start anew as we anticipate the joy of Easter Sunday.

Not only that, but it allows us the chance to do this not as a bunch of lone rangers. Through our ‘mini-Easters’ each Sunday during this season, our shared daily devotion through our L.E.N.T. Guide, as well as our shared bonds during the other times we get together officially and unofficially, we share the journey together, knowing that we can draw strength and inspiration from one another as we move towards the empty tomb that is full of hope and promise.

No matter how you may feel about Jimmy Graham, the Saints, or the Seahawks, I wish him nothing but the best in his new home, and hope that he will find himself in the midst of a wonderful family there that will allow his skills to flourish and for him to find satisfaction.

May we, too, find joy in our church family, knowing that, just like a good football team, we all have distinct roles to play and that through our shared efforts we will achieve the goal set before us – making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Grace and Peace,