“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 2:5
Dear Redeemer Family:
It is to the above text, for this Passion Sunday, a vision of disciples remade in the mind of Christ, that all of Lent builds. The season of baptismal preparation provides a rich palette of biblical texts in which the people of God both strive and fail to live faithfully into the mind of Christ. The grace of God provides a never-ending spring of encouragement. From the contrasting prayers of the hypocrites and those who pray in secret, through the amazing but flawed faithfulness of Abraham and Sarah, to the over-enthusiastic woman at the well and the reticent parents of the one given sight, we see Sunday by Sunday just how complicated and difficult it is to cultivate and live into the sacrificial, servant mind of Christ. Like a steady drumbeat, Romans provides a solid theological commentary on abundant human sin and abundant God given grace throughout the season.
At the same time, one need not scratch too deeply beneath the surface of these lessons of baptismal preparation to find the living waters. In these forty days of dry bones and lack of vision, God points us toward the paschal mystery on the horizon and the saving waters that await our renewal. Gracious encouragement abounds. Through the God who so loved that world that the self-emptying Son has given, our hope is encouraged in the living waters of a Samaritan well, in the water flowing from the rock, in the horn of oil and the mighty outpouring of the Spirit, in mud and washing.
Through a sublime and tightly woven symphony of stories across this season of Lent, we see God’s ancient people mirroring our own lives: the equivocation of Adam and Eve, laid against the faithfully following Abraham. Nicodemus comes with bold questions to Jesus but only under the cover and safety of darkness. The Bethany sisters both accuse and confess. In all their complexity, these characters despair and hope, work and wonder, live and die as we ourselves do. And our only real hope is every bit as complex and mysterious: the waters of baptism toward which the Church of the self-emptying Christ moves. They are waters of death, then life; of dying, then rising. Of sin swallowed up, then life given and renewed.
The Season of Lent is truly a season of textual complexity, mystery and beauty. Enjoy it this year.