“May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
Dear Redeemer Family:
We are now in Lent. Technically, I think that we have already been in a very long Lent. It was during Lent of 2020 that we had to stop in person worship because of the coronavirus. We never did get to celebrate Holy Week, or Easter. We had to shift to virtual worship. And, although we did get to worship in person for a part of the year, we never really “officially” ended Lent 2020. Think about it. And, if Lent is often seen as a season of self-discipline, we have had to add some disciplines. To prayer and devotions, among others, we’ve added masks, social distancing, hand washing and sanitizer. Well, technically, it has worked. As of this writing, according to the CDC, the county now has its lowest weekly Covid numbers since the middle of July. We are at 298 cases. Realize that the high point was 1,629 cases in the county. That was after Halloween.
I would say, “Congratulation.” The disciplines have worked. We still have to keep them up. And we now have vaccines available to help with the pandemic. But, we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel! I am personally tired of emphasizing discipline after of year of doing so. Therefore, let’s look at Lent the other way. Yes, there is more than one way to look at Lent. This year, in particular, let’s look at Lent as a time of learning and reclaiming our identity in baptism as we prepare for Easter. We can then think more about recalling our own identities as children of God. The lessons for the season will help. The waters drown the evil around us (Gen. 9), name us a part of God’s family (Gen. 17), enroll us as a people formed by God’s Law (EX. 20), offer healing from deadly sin (Num. 21), and welcome us home as a people whose las is written on the heart (Jer. 31). These lessons give us a picture that God’s mercy isn’t just in the New Testament and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but are already present and shared through the Old Testament as well.
Even the Gospel Acclamation for Lent reminds us to return to God, who is gracious, merciful, sow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Repentance is not a frightening appearance before an angry God, but a homecoming to one who longs to save us in the midst of our trials and fears. And, of course, the Gospel lessons themselves we hear a word of grace in the midst of fears we face.
I think that this year especially, we should approach Lent in this manner. We have had plenty of discipline and fear. Let us proceed through this Lenten Season recalling that through baptism we have been claimed by a gracious and merciful heavenly Father, and made to be His children and fellow-heirs with His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us enjoy this time, and do so together as we strive to put this past year behind us!