March 2018

I’d just heard news of the high school murders in Parkland, Florida as our Ash Wednesday service began. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! Lord, hear my voice!…The Psalmist’s lament began our worship, marking the beginning of Lent’s forty days in the wilderness with Jesus, mourning our sins and turning to God for new life. As we do each year, we read scriptures, sang hymns, took time in silence to pray. We wrote sins and broken places in our lives on slips of paper. Then burned them in candle flame, giving them over to God…We prayed again in silence. And received ashes in the sign of the cross on our brows…
Lent is a season of preparation… The way to resurrection life begins in the darkness of winter, in the shadow of human sin and death. Lent is a time for recommitting ourselves to following Jesus… as he leads us out from death…in the way of the cross. Lent is a beginning… not an end. On the first Sunday in Lent each year we revisit Jesus’s forty days in the wilderness, where he’s tempted and tested by Satan. Our own wilderness is different from Jesus’ wilderness, but we too inevitably face testing and tempting. We draw strength on this journey from Jesus, learning from him as we do our best to follow… Sharing in the sufferings of Christ, as Christ takes on the sufferings of the world…
Especially in Lent, Jesus reminds us – if we are to be his followers we too must take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow him. Every year this can seem as daunting as ever. Yet as we persist in asking Jesus’ help, we learn again… Though the way is difficult… The cross of Jesus is far gentler than all the world has to offer. For it is only in the cross and resurrection of Jesus that the sins, the sufferings, the death of this world is transformed… into new creation Life.
And even though forty days is really not long enough, at least not for me… to be really ready for all that lies ahead… Soon we arrive at Palm Sunday… with crowds waving palm branches and shouting hosannas…barely noticing the cross looming ahead…
On Holy Thursday we will be with Jesus at his last supper as he’s breaking bread and washing feet and giving us last reminders…So soon, Good Friday – the darkest of days… Yet in Christ’s strange, paradoxical gospel…Here is the completion of his work…as Jesus says from the cross “It is finished.”
Lent is a new beginning.
Not the end.
May we continue to walk with Him, trusting in his steadfast love, mercy, grace and hope.
May His Presence bless us all the way…into his fullness of Life.
-Pastor Tim