Living in a Lenten World
Here we are in the middle of Holy Week. Easter is only a few days away. Some of us may be impatiently waiting for Lent to be over. We are ready for Easter. Why wouldn’t we be? Easter is the highlight of the church year. It’s part of our Christian identity. We are an Easter people.
But we live in a Lenten world. We are well acquainted with betrayal and heartbreak, abandonment and suffering, violence and death. Every week, we are confronted with this in the news. We hear about shootings in Kansas City, stabbings in a Pennsylvania high school, a bombing in a bus station in Nigeria. In our personal lives, we pray for those we know who are ill or grieving. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. No wonder we are so eager to move through Lent.
During Holy Week though, we are vividly reminded of Jesus’ humanity. If we immerse ourselves in any of the Gospel stories of his last week with his disciples, we realize how much he was like us. He is disappointed that the people don’t accept his message. He welcomes the woman who anoints him with perfume. He enjoys a festive meal with his closest friends. He expresses his love for them. He is afraid and anxious in the garden of Gethsemane. When he is arrested, his disciples flee. Peter denies that he even knows Jesus. Jesus suffers physically and mentally. On the cross, he feels totally abandoned, even by God.
Yet through it all, Jesus remains faithful to God’s ways. He does not fight back when the crowd comes to arrest him. In Luke’s version, Jesus forgives those who are crucifying him. He also comforts the bandit being crucified next to him with the promise he will be with Jesus in paradise. In John’s account, Jesus speaks to his mother Mary and the disciple whom he loves, ensuring that Mary will have a home. Jesus, who reveals God to us, who is intimately close to the heart of God, who walked this earth in human form like ours, incarnates God’s steadfast love.
As we travel through these last few days until Easter, let us pause and worship together on Thursday evening. Let us remember Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. Let us listen to the story of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Let us reflect on his wondrous love and what it means to us and the world in which we live.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He began to feel sad and anxious. Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” – Matthew 26:36a, 38