Here we are, Lent upon us, almost an entire year of pandemic. To be sure, this year has been fraught for many of us. Though there is much to rejoice in, but there is also much to grieve. Many of us have suffered bereavements related to Covid or not, and those bereavements have been impacted by the pandemic. Many of us have lost jobs, security or regular human contact. Church has adjusted. Each of us, in our own way, is suffering through some physical, emotional and/or spiritual loss.
Lent is often a season of lament. We grieve our sin and the consequences of sin in our world: injustice, illness, inequity, loneliness, greed and death. In keeping with lament and repentance we draw upon the sign of ashes to recall where we come from and where we are going – from dust to dust. While we walk the dust of the earth, we recall our origins and our destiny and during Lent seek to hold this mortal life loosely and following Jesus in faith.
As we follow Jesus, we remember that He walked the same dust we do. Yet, He had a different confidence in where He came from and where He was going. We read in St. John’s Gospel that Jesus knew where He was going – from the Father and back to the Father and so just before His death, He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-5). Earlier in John’s Gospel (ch. 3), Jesus spoke with Nicodemus about being ‘born again’ or otherwise translated, ‘born from above.’ It is the same Holy Spirit who conceived life in the Virgin Mary who breathes new life from above into us. Not only that, but just as that same Spirit raised Christ from the dead, He ensures our resurrection, just like Jesus’! (Eph. 1:13-14) May each of us know where we come from and where we are going, no longer simply dust to dust, but glory to glory!
Romans 8:22-15 reminds us that, though we hope for resurrected glory, meanwhile we groan. Though we groan, in this time we also love and serve, just like Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. Lent is not simply a time to lament. It is also a time to love. It is a time to remember from where we have been born, to where we are going and what our time in between is all about – to live as Christ in the world. As St. Paul writes, ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain… I desire to depart and be with Christ… but it is more necessary that I remain… for your progress and joy in the faith.’
May we serve and love one another well this Lent. May we encourage one another’s faith in this time of fatigue. May we join the ancient Macedonian Christians who were generous out of their poverty (2 Cor. 8:1-7). May we look out for one another and be in touch with each other. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any need you may have.