My Lenten Walk


For many years, I adhered to the practice of giving up something for Lent.  Usually, it was something like coffee, which has been for decades a staple of my diet. Or chocolate or desserts. I have even fasted, as John Wesley encouraged all to do.  Sometimes, I went out on a limb and gave up popcorn.  (I used to say that popcorn was my favorite “vegetable.”)  I have to confess, however, that my motive was not always 100% pure since these Lenten disciplines often helped me in my struggle to control my weight. Often, in addition to giving something up, I would take on a special project for Lent.  This is not a big, earth-shattering new idea to many of you who have been doing this for some time now!


Recently I have been moved by the spiritual practice of prayerful remembrance as a Lenten discipline.  As I live each day in Lent, at various times throughout the day, I turn my thoughts to persons who have made a major impact on my life and faith.  I spend moments calling that person’s face and life to my mind, sometimes reflecting on an object or souvenir that I associate with that person.  Those moments are filled with recollections of times spent, lessons learned, emotions experienced, and I hold that person in a prayer of thanksgiving for all that has been offered to me because of the relationship we shared.


In my Lenten journey, among those who are remembered are persons who have lived and died and now live again in Christ Jesus’ promise of eternal life.  It is a powerful spiritual experience to call to memory these beloved persons.  I recall moments of joy as well as moments of struggle and challenge because each of those experiences brought new awareness of the other person, of myself, and of life. I find gratitude in my heart for those that shaped my life and my faith:  my parents, grandparents, other family members, and friends.


One of the persons I hold in prayerful remembrance is my grandmother.  A devout Buddhist, she nonetheless was eclectic in her openness to other religions.  When she emigrated to Hawaii in the late 1800’s, she adapted to her new home by embracing Christian customs.  One interesting sight was seeing her pray at the Buddhist shrine she had in her home, which was right next to the Christmas tree she had decorated.  Grandma remained Buddhist all her life.  But she was one who affirmed my calling to follow Jesus Christ and to give my life in ministry to The United Methodist Church.  When I decided to become a pastor, while my parents asked me practical questions like:  “How much does a pastor make?”  My grandmother responded differently.  She said in her mixture of Japanese and English, what amounted to: “If that is what will make you happy, go for it!”


As I remember my Buddhist grandmother, I know that in part because of her life and her influence I am striving to be the very best bishop I can be for Jesus Christ and His Church.  So in prayerful remembrance of her, I ask God for some assurance that she is with God in the eternal life promised by Jesus Christ.  Can that be so? 


You recall the story in the Gospel of the criminals who were crucified alongside our Lord.  Luke tells that one of the criminals kept taunting Jesus; but the other criminal rebuked him by proclaiming Jesus innocent of the crimes that he and the other criminal were condemned for, and then, addressing Jesus says:  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”


How we all hope Jesus will remember us!  Especially at the moment when we stand before God when our sojourn upon earth has ended.  I cannot tell you with absolute certainty what happened to my grandmother when she passed from this earthly life.  Yet, I have hope that in the mystery of the vast love of God in Jesus Christ, there is hope for Grandma and for all of us! That is the enduring message of our faith as people who live in the shadow of the cross!


As you continue in your Lenten walk, I hope and pray that you will find strength in remembering persons who have been important to you.  And I hope that you will gain inspiration for life’s journey still before us.


Let me leave you with three questions to reflect on. I invite you to share your thought with me!

1.       What have you given up for Lent?

2.       What have you “taken on” as a part of your Lenten discipline?

3.       If you were to hold someone in prayerful remembrance, who would that be and why? 

Bob Hoshibata
Robert Hoshibata is Bishop of the Phoenix Area of The United Methodist Church and presides over the Desert Southwest Annual Conference. Hoshibata presided over the Oregon-Idaho Conference from 2004-2012 and his blog postings are here for reference.