“When you have nothing left but God, then for the first time, you become aware that God is enough.” – Maude Royden
Last month in this article, I talked about making a pilgrimage during Lent. We are pilgrims on a journey, on the road with each other and with the Triune God to the ultimate surprise and gift of the faith that we call Easter. As we approach the Great Three Days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) and Easter celebration, I think it might be useful to see where we’ve come in these last weeks in worship.
We began Lent on Ash Wednesday when we knocked away all of what we are- all of our finery, our imposter’s clothing and masks that we put on ourselves and we came face to face with our mortality. We heard sobering words that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return.” That evening, we gathered as a collective community in a room where together we were praying to God and trusting God to show up for this pilgrimage.
On the first Sunday in Lent, we met Jesus in the wilderness as he was tempted by Satan (the accuser or tempter). Jesus is tempted to put his needs before God, and too often we are tempted to do the same thing. In the end, we were left asking the question of Jesus- what kind of Messiah he is going to be. The rest of Lent helps us explore that, but in the end, we remember that Jesus promises always to be faithful to God- and that’s true for us too- Jesus and God are always faithful to us.
On the Second Sunday in Lent, we met Nicodemus, the leader of the Pharisees who comes to Jesus by night curious about who he is and wanting to see more, but he couldn’t get out of his own way. He kept his blinders on for what he thought Jesus should be and do, and he couldn’t see another way around it. Jesus won’t fit into our definitions, like it or not.
Lent 3 brings us in touch with the Samaritan Woman at the Well who really sees Jesus for who he is. This is the longest conversation Jesus has with anyone in the Bible and in the end, Jesus sees her, and us too, despite the flaws, the imperfections, and the ways in which we think we mess up. Jesus sees, knows, and loves us anyway.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent brought us in touch with the Man Born Blind. Again, this is a man who remains nameless and who has this awesome encounter with Jesus. The question people ask of him is the wrong one- he’s not blind because anyone has sinned; but God uses his blindness to bring glory and to reveal the power and presence of God all around us.
The Fifth Sunday in Lent brings us home to Bethany and Mary and Martha whose brother Lazarus has died. Lent for us is a period of preparation for Baptism at the Easter Vigil traditionally in the life of the Church and what we experience in Baptism is what Lazarus experiences- a raising to new life. Lazarus- and us- are invited to be unbound so that we can live a new life.
Holy Week begins our journey into Jerusalem as we see Jesus, God in the flesh, willing to die for us so that indeed the world would not be condemned, but saved because God loves it that much. Holy Week is not so much meant to be explained as it is to be experienced. That said, I would urge you to invite others to experience it with you with the words I will invite you with- Come and See…
Journeying with you,