By Pastor We Poole
Hebrews 12: 1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. – NRSV
Running a race. That’s a common theme in the church when Lent approaches. Once it’s upon us, it’s easy to start feeling like we’d rather just hurry up and get through all of the meditation, repentance, fasting, and denial that are attributed to Lent and get on with the celebration of Easter! If you have ever felt that way, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you feel that way this year particularly, definitely give yourself a break! It’s never easy to spend forty days examining our sin and our own shortcomings, even under the best circumstances. Most of us have a difficult time spending five minutes under that kind of scrutiny, much less an entire season of the church year!!
Yet it is so very appropriate that the church affords us such an opportunity directly before we celebrate Easter, the holiest day of the year. Before we get to the celebration, we are set to the task of looking at ourselves and taking stock of who we are and how we have used the gifts that God has given us. The really difficult part lies in doing this honestly. For when we examine our lives truthfully, we realize all too quickly that we come out lacking. Once again we have fallen short of all that God intends for us. Once again, sin has caused us to lose sight of who and whose we are.
Nevertheless, as Jesus himself would say, “Don’t be afraid!” It was for just such a time that the words above from the Book of Hebrews were written. As we noted last week, Lent is truly a journey. That is what the apostle in Hebrews is urging us to consider. We are called to embark upon a journey of renewal, starting on Ash Wednesday. It is not always an easy journey, as it is marked by discipline, sacrifice, and honest self-examination. Still, we know that ultimately we are an Easter people; living in the truth of the resurrection and the promise of eternal life. Despite the hardships of the road, we emerge on the Easter side of the pilgrimage with a renewed resolve to continue striving to grow in those things are pleasing to God…kindness, compassion, generosity, and service to others. The joy and wonder of Lent are to be found in the fact that our Easter Lord is still there, waiting to take our sins on Himself as we uncover them and “lay them aside”.
The journey of Lent is a solemn time, filled with sometimes disturbing images and uncomfortable scrutiny. Yet we travel the road confident in the fact that the love and mercy of this great God who was willing to die for us is walking with us every step of the way. That’s reason enough to shout Hallelujah…even though we’re not strictly supposed to yet! ;>)
Let us pray…
God of Grace, we thank you for this time to work on ourselves, and to focus on better modeling the life Jesus showed us. Make us strong in empathy, charity, kindness, and compassion. Help us to nurture each other in the faith, and to emerge on the Easter side refreshed and renewed. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe.
Pastor Wes †