the end of Lent 2014
So, Lent is over. I did not even write from Maundy Thursday onwards. Did I make it through Lent? or- how did I make it through Lent? The same way I made it through today or last Monday, or January the 8th…
by God’s Grace alone.
Did I keep lent well? Well, I did something different, considered God’s work in my life and this world, and I’ve had fun doing this. I didn’t actually mortify the flesh.
Thanks for reading.
Oh yeah, if you were wondering, Jesus gets killed – but it is not the end of the story – some women go to the tomb where he was buried, but his body was not there… Read about it if you will.
This bread is my body
Eating the passover with friends: Blessed be God, who brings forth bread from the earth.
This bread is my body.
Soon God will bring forth the living bread (he who will die) from the earth.
The immortal dies for us.
Jesus, you wept over Jerusalem
Here I am Lord, sitting before you, cleverly trying to read or think or write some right things without even noticing that you are here.
Is that wise? Is it sin?
Jesus, you wept over Jerusalem. They didn’t recognize what would bring peace; you were there with them.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see how you are with us.
English Standard Version (ESV)
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Good enough lent
A week or so ago I wrote a little on The good Lent and failing at lenten observance. I like the piece that Alastair Sterne of St. Peter’s Fireside has written about giving up Lent for Lent.
Alastair writes that in lent we may be feeding
a desire to be able to lay something before God and say “Look, I did it. I have it within myself. I’m worthy.” We don’t want to bumble our way through Lent depending on grace. We want to strong-arm our way towards self-congratulation.
In Lent, as in all of christian life, we walk in a delicate balance between discipline and the tendency towards legalism, between works and grace. As the Duo Salmond and Mulder sang: “We’re all stumbling heavenward we’re flying like a crippled dove”. May God bless us all in our efforts, and through his unmerited favour.
moving day, comfy chair and grief
My parents-in-law are moving into a retirement home today. One of the challenges for them is to chose carefully what items to take with them to the new place. They are moving from a full-sized house, and the challenge could be overwhelming.
If I could only take one thing with me to a new home, what would I take? perhaps I would just refuse to go, like Granny of the Beverley Hillbillies…
My Mother in law is thinking of choosing a comfy chair. That makes sense, having a good place to sit and read, and think and remember…
This reminded me of something by Mike Mason:
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Do you have a favorite chair, a place where you feel most at home and comfortable? So does joy. Joy’s favorite chair is your sadness, your weakness, your grief. Wherever your wounds are most tender, joy finds a soft place to settle. A lighthearted person may rejoice, but no one has greater capacity for joy than one who is, like our Saviour, “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Joy loves our brokenness best.
in Lent, it can be helpful to connect with our hurting places and examine them with the Man of Sorrows. He is acquainted with grief.
after that night
That night, others may have slept, rested and been refreshed,
but when morning came, after:
- peter’s denial by the fire in Caiaphas’s courtyard
- a sleepless night
- a brutal night
- a silent night for the defense
- a rooster crowing
- bitter weeping
– after that night;
When morning came,
all the chief priests and elders took counsel against Jesus to put him to death – and bound him and led him away.
The good Lent
So, having a good Lent? Well, not so much, really
Is it ok to do poorly at lent?
What happens if we get to the end of Lent, having successfully mortified the flesh and worthily lamented our sins? Is it ok to fail at Lent. Can I fail at Lent without falling?
One danger that I see is the possibility of completing a successful Lenten observance and feeling that I have earned a prize, – that I am in some way ‘worthy’. Self righteousness is a huge danger. The fact that I survived for x number of days – well that is grace. Any attempt or leaning towards godliness is the work of Holy Spirit (sure, I am involved in obedience, and even in some weird way, in grace). If I struggle with sin, or are troubled with my weaknesses, grace again.
So, having a good lent? Aware of your imperfections, failings? Longing to do better, or longing to long to do better?
Are you a person who needs a saviour, The Saviour?
Good Lent to you! And may God have mercy on us all.
Christ also suffered – following in his steps
1Peter 2 ESV
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Following “in his steps”? What does this mean
- Doing good, even though it might bring suffering
- Being subject to those in authority over us
- He committed no sin
- No deceit was found in his mouth
- He did not return reviling for reviling
- He suffered without threatening
- He continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
When I think on that list above, I understand how I need Jesus and the provision of his sacrifice. When I read the beginning of 1 Peter chapter 2, I understand even more: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Lord, increase my desire for your spiritual milk, as found in the Bible. I have tasted that you are good. I want to grow up.
On Friday I was privileged to hear Reaksa Himm speak. His message was about forgiveness, and he is qualified, in my mind, to teach about that topic. A few years ago I read his book The Tears of My Soul: The Story of a Boy Who Survived the Cambodian Killing Fields.
In the book he details how he was left for dead, and eventually came to forgive the people who intended to murder him and those close to him.
“Father for give them” are words of Jesus. How do I do in forgiving big and little offences?
There is a phrase in an Anglican collect (group prayer) for Lent that mentions us “worthily lamenting” our sin. I don’t think that that phrase always describes my relationship to sin.
I’m more likely to lament the consequences of sin or regret because of the way I feel afterwards.
perhaps remorse and self-loathing is a beginning step, or else a counterfeit for worthy lament.
Lord, let me worthily lament my sin:
- My selfishness.
- My caring more about my comfort than the comfort of others.
- My caring about what others think of me more than what they think of You, or what you think of me