There Will Be Miracles

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The Lenten journey always reminds me of wandering through a wilderness. Today, I thought about the Exodus story that details a part of the journey of the Israelites. The story tells how the Israelite community traveled from place to place as the Lord commanded. When they camped at Rephidim, they found no water, so, of course, they complained to Moses.

An exasperated Moses cried out to the Lord, β€œWhat am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Of course they were. It was so much easier to blame Moses than to take responsibility for their own decision to make this journey. I am well acquainted with the tendency to blame other people or other circumstances for my own mistakes and missteps. And like the Israelites, I have often been exasperated enough to cry out as they did: β€œIs the Lord among us or not?”

As always, God showed up to help Moses with this dilemma.

The Lord answered Moses, β€œGo out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. (From Exodus 17)

Moses did just that and obeyed a God who provided the miracle. Water spewed out of Horeb’s rock and the people drank the miracle water until they thirsted no more. They would see God’s miracles again. They would witness the glory of the Lord again, and again.

But the journey continued, the wilderness was barren, the way was long. The people would complain again. They would sin, even as they witnessed life-changing events. They would be very human.

Just as we are. So take heart as you travel your Lenten journey. There will be dry, wilderness patches. But there will also be miracles. Keep your eyes open for them. You’ll be grateful that you did.

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A Shadow of a Cross

 

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Moving through Lent brings us ever closer to the cross, to the events that mark the passion of Christ. For now, the cross is barely visible, just a shadow, but we know it is a part of this journey. We know that if Lent is genuinely a part of our faith journey, we will get to the cross and all that it means to us. On the way, we will participate in the passion of Jesus.

Marcus Borg writes about this kind of participation.

Imagine that it’s about participating in Jesus’s passion for the transformation of β€œthis world” into a world of justice and peace. Imagine that it’s about a passion to change β€œthis world.” What difference might that make for what it means to be Christian – and to be an American Christian?

Might our Lenten journey become more than forty empty days of observing this part of the Christian year? Might Lent become a deeply sincere expression of our devotion? Might we find along our Lenten path a renewed passion to transform our world?

God grant that we can experience a holy passion. It is not an easy road for us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer does not describe a Christ that is gloriously transported to heaven. Instead, he says this:

Christ is not gloriously transported from earth into heaven. He must instead go to the cross. And precisely there, where the cross stands, the resurrection is near. Precisely here, where all lose faith in God, where all despair about the power of God, God is fully there, and Christ is alive and near.

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter

The glorious miracle is that what we see now as a mere shadow of a cross becomes a clear vision of resurrection — Christ’s and ours.

When “Moonlight” Upstages “La La Land”

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Moving through Lent can be a brutally honest journey, a journey for looking deeply within ourselves and trying to make peace with what we find there. More honesty can bring more contrition. If we are wise, we will not allow ourselves to trudge through guilt and self-recrimination. Instead, we will open our hearts and souls to transformation.

Still, Lent can be a season of wilderness filled with confusion. It is meant to be a journey of personal lament as we look straight into our hearts, which the place where transformation happens and resurrection is possible.

I was brought to tears a few nights ago as I read a Lenten meditation written by my friend, Ken Sehested. I share with you just a brief section of Ken’s meditation.

Lent is the liturgical season where this confusion rises to the surface, and weβ€”especially people of privilegeβ€”are asked to enter the wilderness from which God, apparently, has absconded: where things don’t work out, where movies lack happy endings, where the faces of children are not cherry-cheeked, downy-soft, delightfully radiant.

Lent is the season when β€œMoonlight” upstages β€œLa La Land.”

Lent beckons us into the wilderness, and there – through honest reflection and genuine repentance – we find transformation.
Read Ken Sehested’s excellent meditation, Lent is the season when β€œMoonlight” upstages β€œLa La Land,” at this link:
http://www.prayerandpolitiks.org/articles-essays-sermons/2017/02/28/lent-is-the-season-when-moonlight-upstages-la-la-land.2487935

A Lenten Hymn

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Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

Lord, Who throughout these forty days
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins
And close by Thee to stay.

As Thou with Satan didst contend,
And didst the victory win,
O give us strength in Thee to fight,
In Thee to conquer sin.

As Thou didst hunger bear, and thirst,
So teach us, gracious Lord,
To die to self, and chiefly live
By Thy most holy Word.

And through these days of penitence,
And through Thy passiontide,
Yea, evermore in life and death,
Jesus, with us abide.

Abide with us, that so, this life
Of suffering over past,
An Easter of unending joy
We may attain at last.
Text: Claudia F. Hernaman, 1873 (Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13)