So today is the first Sunday of Lent. Most of the churches I have participated in do not follow the church calendar and do not follow the liturgy for Lent. There are a variety of reasons, but I do think we miss things when we do not know the church year. We come to Good Friday and sometimes feel like we have to scramble to bring ourselves into a sober mindset to be able to think on the suffering of Jesus on that day. Many churches do not have Good Friday services either. So we come to Easter and welcome a different type of service and enjoy the songs…but we come to the place of praise and celebration without completely coming through the time of sobriety and contemplation….the celebration is much richer if we have spent the time of Lent preparing for Easter.
So, today…I’ve included a few links that offer some readings and the liturgy for the first Sunday in Lent. That is all below, under the “Links”
It’s been a long few days for me since Ash Wednesday. It is funny how when we try to do something different in our spiritual walk there seems to be a heightened emotional response. Maybe it is in the expectation that something should happen because, after all, we are paying attention. I have tried to guard myself against having expectations in this season, but being human, that’s a little tough.
The other day, Thursday, I was standing in the hall at the boys’ school getting ready to return to the car for dismissal. I was coming down the hall and a few of the teachers were coming from the other direction. One was holding a little boy, 18 months old, and he was completely limp. Another was shouting that he was not breathing and for someone to call 911. A friend who is a teacher in the preschool went down the hall and took the little boy. She told me later that his eyes were fixed and dialated and he was blue. She performed CPR and was able to resuscitate him and the ambulance arrived quickly. He was taken to the hospital and is doing well.
It was highly emotional. My friend who did the CPR was overcome with emotion. She had saved a little boys’ life. God was gracious. All of us in the hallway had been praying and were so relieved. He was too young…but he is still marked by mortality and I know of a dozen babies and little ones struggling for their life even at this moment. We are all dust.
At midnight Saturday morning my Uncle Barry breathed his last. There was no scramble to resuscitate him, there was no CPR. There was longing instead for him to be taken home, to leave behind the destroying forces of Alzheimer’s and the body that was ready to return to dust. There was longing for him to put on his eternal body…to be made whole and for the family to be able to release him to this peace and promise. He has returned to the dust.
Our mortality surprises us sometimes. In the abrupt stopping of breath in an infant we are stunned. In the last breath given of the older we are relieved sometimes…and yet we still mourn. We are weighted by this brokenness.
Jesus knows death. He knows it intimately, and yet he has conquered this greatest foe. Still, it didn’t happen as a surprise to Him. He was prepared.
The journey to the wilderness. The night in Gethsemane. The knowledge of what was His purpose…He knew that He *must* suffer for us. This time before Easter, this time leading up to Good Friday we set aside frivolity for a little season so that we can enter in in some way to Jesus’ suffering. Enter into the knowledge of His suffering is maybe a better way to put it.
We’re just getting started. I’m thankful for more time. I need to quiet my mind. To follow Jesus to the desert and watch Him resist the temptations. Watch as He sets His face toward Jerusalem. Watch as He prays in Gethsemane. Watch as He endures the trials and the mockery. Watch as He walks to Golgatha.
Watch as He saves us all.
And Watch as He comes forth from the grave.
There is a lot to watch. There is a lot to settle into our souls. Taking it a little at a time….and being moved and changed during this Lenten season…
“Perhaps it is the time to live more simply in order to tighten up the drumskin, so that God’s drumbeat can be heard more clearly in our lives.”
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the traditional spring Ember Days.)