A year or two ago, a wise bishop from Argentina reminded his listeners that Lent is a time for us to overcome our indifference in concrete ways. Tangible ways. Real ways.
We have waited longer than normal for this particular Lenten season to begin. Yet now that we find ourselves here, we also know that our world is on the brink of something far more daunting than a simple forty days in the wilderness.
Lent is a time of preparation, true. However that preparation is meant to be active. Intentional. In ways that seek God’s kingdom at work in this world here and now. To be the light as shadows start to fall.
It is becoming more common practice to use a sort of “reverse Advent calendar” during the season of Lent. In other words, to light candles for the Sundays and key days of the season and then extinguish or remove them as we come closer to Holy Week. To remind ourselves that as we draw near to Golgotha, the shadows will appear to win.
Because in our world the shadows often seem to win.
Lent helps us to acknowledge this reality in our world. The hard parts. The messy bits. So much of what we are watching right now in the news.
It is so important to do this, because life is really, really difficult at times. Bad things happen. We cannot always stop them.
But just like the events of Good Friday, what we hold onto is the ultimate, undeniable hope that we are not looking at the end of the story.
In worship on Sunday, before our Prayers of the People, I looked around our hallowed hall and reflected aloud that our Sanctuary has seen times like this before. Our church body has seen more still. Our God has walked with our people through those times and God has seen so many more times like now than we can count. What we hold onto is the grace and hope of God’s presence through all of this – the One who has stood the test of time.
And as we hold on, we become that grace and hope for others.
We are seeing countless stories of people being light for one another right now. They are incredible. And if you wonder where God is in all of this – that is your answer. With those who are bearing true light and love into the shadows that are rising.
You can do that, too.
So, here are some words from Isaiah 43 to give you courage for our Lenten journey ahead: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Blessings, Pastor Janie