“Packing for a Journey”
With March 1st we once again start the journey to the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That journey will take us to some familiar places. It will also take us through some difficult terrain. There is the beauty of the Upper Room meal with the disciples. There is the brutality of the cross. There is the sadness of the tomb.
Easter comes! The triumph of Jesus over the greatest foe of the human race – death – is complete. Like reading a beloved story, even though we know the ending, the details bless each time we read it.
The Journey of Lent invites us to “experience” the story once again. In order to “experience” the story we have to approach it with an open heart and mind. There is no need to anticipate the ending – that anticipation could rob us of the richness of the pages before it. The structure is the same every time – five Sundays, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday (often overlooked) and finally, Easter. In the ‘sameness’ we are invited to experience each week as a unique step on the journey. In the familiar terrain we need to search diligently for what is unique – a “God sighting” if you will.
For Janna and me it is like going to Yellowstone for the third or fourth time in a summer season. We are extra vigilant in watching for wildlife, a unique flower, the special beauty in a sunrise or sunset. If we just looked at the ‘big picture’ we would soon decide that we have seen it all before. That decision would rob us of the richness of a visit to the park.
Likewise, Lent invites you to truly experience the richness of the journey to resurrection.
As with any journey, it is good to have a guide. The scriptural accounts of the road to resurrection give us a rich context. As early as the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Luke Jesus alludes to his coming arrest and sets his face toward Jerusalem [Luke 9:51]. The triumphal entry into Jerusalem is well documented. This guide can show us what happened between the entry and the resurrection. Consult the guide.
But we have another guide. In Yellowstone we often interact with the rangers, asking questions and seeking the places to discover the unique. In our journey to resurrection, the Holy Spirit is always there to guide us in the best paths. Ask questions on your Lenten journey. Seek clarification. Ask for guidance. The richness of the journey will be enhanced as we lean on our ‘guide’ to, as John’s Gospel puts it, “lead us into all truth.”
The most important aspect for starting this journey to resurrection is to be intentional. Set your expectations to truly feel the impact of all that God does for us in Jesus Christ. From the variety of stops on the journey to the acclamation of the crowds on Palm Sunday, from the powerful meal on Passover to the weight of the cross on Good Friday to the elation of the resurrected Jesus – seek to experience the richness of God’s work in Jesus Christ. Expect God to show up in the landscape. Expect to be challenged, to be blessed, even to be surprised. May your Lenten journey be an awe-filled trip with the Lord.