Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lent 2016

Today is Ash Wednesday and so we enter into the season of Lent.  It is a long season that opens up with dark ashes and somber words about human mortality and ends with fresh baptismal water and words about resurrection.  It reminds us of the last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem.  As the gospel writer Luke tells it, the last journey began on the Mt. of Transfiguration and ended outside of Jerusalem on a hill called Calvary.  Along the way there were so many memorable encounters with people who were desperate enough to cry out for mercy or climb a tree.  These days of Lent also bring into view memorable moments such as the Triumphal Entry, the cleansing of the Temple, the final supper, the betrayals, the trial, and, of course, the cruel crucifixion.

To read about this final journey of Jesus to Jerusalem and to His death is gut wrenching and heart breaking.  It is gut wrenching to consider the enormous amount of pain and suffering thrust upon Jesus before He finally breathed His last gasp of breath on the cross.  But, as gut wrenching as it may be, it is far more heart breaking for as we see Him suffering and finally dying, we know each one of us is the reason.  Surely, it breaks our heart to know that our sin made it all necessary.  The sin at which the world would wink, or turn a blind eye, or declare inconsequential is the very thing that nailed Him to the tree.  When we finally come to that moment of realizing that Jesus died because of our sin, it is indeed a heart breaking moment filled not only with tears but also such deep sorrow.

Lent is not a pleasant season.  It is one that is from day one overshadowed by the long and awful darkness of a cross.  There is no way to walk into Lent and not realize what is at the end of the journey.  Some may say in a Pollyanna fashion, "Oh, but Easter is coming," but it only comes at a great cost which is impossible to miss by those who walk the road all the way to the end to hear the nails, the screams of the Holy One, and the final fall of His head against a silent chest. "Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy on me a sinner."

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