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As we enter the last full week of Lent and perhaps begin making our Easter Sunday plans, I am struck by the huge dichotomy between Lent/Holy Week and Easter.  One reminds us of self-sacrifice, denial, humility and brokeness.  The latter tells us the story of victory, life, wholeness and exuberance.  But they do not oppose or negate one another; rather they drape one another in beauty and add dimension to each other.  They link arms and become companions on the journey.  While some may say the world is flat, the story we find ourselves in is not!

I find myself in these two opposing but complementary stories each Saturday night as we attend our local gathering.  We are a church family who tends to be far more comfortable on the Easter-side of things.  We talk about victory and redemption with shouts of praise and hands raised in the air.  On the other hand, we gather at a church building owned by a more formally-liturgical denomination.  In the midst of raised hands, the colors of Lent drape the altar area.  It reminds me of our need for rhythms in the church year – for season of humility and repentance to kiss seasons of exuberance.  I am convinced that we need to learn from those of different traditions those things that they know very well.  Then, we may begin to really swim in the depth of this story of our Savior.

But as we come to the end of the Lenten season with Easter in view, as we continue to stay faith in our repentance and allowing the Spirit to search our hearts, all while knowing a “victory celebration” is right around the corner, I don’t want to move too quickly out of Lent because there is always a part of the story I am to carry with me.  “It is important to look at the humiliated and victorious Christ…All through the year we have to stay close to the humiliation as well as the victory of Christ, because we are called to live both in our own daily lives.  We are small and big, specks in the universe and the glory of God, little fearful people and sons and daughters of the Lord of all creation.”  (Henri Nouwen)

Lord, help me to continue to say with the psalmist, “Search me, and know my heart”.   Continue to show me where I do not trust You.  I am weak, lack endurance and, if I were honest, would like to be done with Lent.  Bring back to remembrance the ashes placed on my forehead weeks ago.  And even in the season of Easter, would You help me to feel the weight of their invisible markings.

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