Coming together during Lent
The trip to Arizona over the weekend of the 10th was really good. Mom is in good health, Dad’s widow continues to be sharp though MD is progressing, and the siblings and their spouses, kids and grandkids who have somehow ended up out there in the desert were all either on the mend or doing well. The rough part was when our return flight was delayed for 5-6 hours.
The dynamics of the crowd somehow reminded me a bit of days when my siblings and I were a bit younger. Each day those years ago we learned (sometimes in a round-about way) to live together a little bit better. There were occasional rough times and places; some pretty rough and some pretty long (of course I was never the cause of any of them ?), but we were and have very much remained a family. Along with the many joys, this learning process included rough places and uncomfortable days; days of looking in the mirror and seeing my own faults; days of sorrow and repentance; days of showing grace and forgiveness to others; days of coming together as brothers and sisters.
We’re coming into the season of Lent very quickly. Ashes will be placed on many of our foreheads. There will be no flowers on the altar. There will be no singing “Alleluia” as is customary at the beginning of the worship service. It will be a season in which we strip away many of the trappings, the external things around us and consider more deeply who we are, what our situation is, and what’s next.
In our readings for worship we’ll contemplate our relationship to God; about how temptation, rejection, suffering, repentance come to us. And all of these will be placed in our hearts and minds before we get to the week of the Passion of our Lord, when He entered Jerusalem for the final time and was then crucified. He suffered all of this yet remained faithful to His Father and in His love and grace for you.
All of these are important for us to dwell on – to pass through as we grow in our faith and love toward God and our love for each other. Because the old Adam is still in there, wanting to look out for only me, my comfort, my advantage.
Lent, like Advent, is a season in which we will have more frequent opportunities to get together as God’s family. As we pray the Evening Prayer together on each Wednesday between Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, we’ll eat together, pray together, confess our faith together, confess our sins to each other and receive forgiveness, and generally confirm and affirm each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Families do things together. This is your family. It’s a time for us all to come together before our Father; to grow in the grace and forgiveness that we receive only in Christ; and to be brother and sister to one another in the most important way – in the grace and forgiveness of our Lord.