From the Preacherman….
The season of Lent draws near, just over the horizon now, starting with Ash Wednesday on February 17. Lent lasts for 40 days, plus six Sundays, and concludes with Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Some say such practices are not biblical and therefore aren’t to be kept. Well, maybe. The number 40 has such an intriguing history in Scripture: the flood was 40 days, Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai, Elijah was 40 days in the wilderness, and Jesus too, fasting and praying. All these stories promise hope in the end. The extent of the period is important. You have to mean it to do anything for 40 days.
Traditionally the question for Lent is this: What will I give up? People often joke about giving up church, but we have done that for eleven months now, haven’t we? Here is an idea: How about we come to church instead, virtually or in person? Lent is often about our sacrifices, what we give up, with less attention given to what we do. Plan to do something this year, on behalf of God and neighbor and yourself. Do something as a practice of faith until it becomes ritual and holy habit.
This year we travel the season of Lent with Mark’s Gospel. His story of Jesus is pared down, bare bones, simple, but not at all simplistic. Mark is clear that Jesus’ life and death reveal the presence of God. His is a message we desperately need these days, but like Jesus’ followers in Mark, we find it profoundly difficult to see God’s presence in suffering and death. Mark is good news for all of us, especially these days.
Ash Wednesday worship will be online. How will we do the virtual imposition of ashes? Hmmmm. Good question? That will be interesting, won’t it? Maybe you should tune in to see what happens? Begin the process of repentance with us and see where Jesus may lead.
We have practiced nearly a year of Lent. However, seasons have limits. Lent, and Covid, will come to an end. All suffering ends. What follows is indescribable, impossible for words. Resurrection comes, offering hope, the end of tears. “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Hang on, just a bit longer. Dawn breaks soon.