by Rev. Brad Froslee
This past weekend with gently falling snow flakes and the cool breezes blowing, it didn’t feel much like spring. Yet over these next couple of days we are promised lovely spring weather again. We stand on that precipice of seasonal change…and liturgical change. The season of Lent moves us towards spring and new life—and means quite simply, “lengthening” (as in the days) and “spring.” We have been boldly moving from Ash Wednesday towards Holy Week in this movement towards new life and hope. This is something we participate in as a time of reflection, renewal, and re-surrection.
Marcus Borg, author of “Taking Jesus Seriously,” writes,
Lent is about mortality and transformation. We begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with the sign of the cross smeared on our foreheads with ashes as the words are spoken over us, "Dust thou art, and to dust thou wilt return." We begin this season of Lent not only reminded of our death, but also marked for death.
The Lenten journey, with its climax in Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter, is about participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Put somewhat abstractly, this means dying to an old identity—the identity conferred by culture, by tradition, by parents, perhaps—and being born into a new identity—an identity centered in the Spirit of God. It means dying to an old way of being, and being born into a new way of being, a way of being centered once again in God.
Put slightly more concretely, this path of death and resurrection, of radical centering in God, may mean for some of us that we need to die to specific things in our lives--perhaps to a behavior or a pattern of behavior that has become destructive or dysfunctional; perhaps to a relationship that has ended or gone bad; perhaps to an unresolved grief that needs to be let go of; perhaps to a career or job that has either been taken from us or that no longer nourishes us; or perhaps even we need to die to a deadness in our lives.
You can even die to deadness, and this dying is also oftentimes a daily rhythm in our lives—that daily occurrence that happens to some of us as we remind ourselves of the reality of God in our relationship to God; that reminder that can take us out of ourselves, lift us out of our confinement, take away our feeling of being burdened and weighed down.
That's the first focal point of a life that takes Jesus seriously: that radical centering in the Spirit of God that is at the very center of the Christian life.
As we move through this Holy Week and the events of the world, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I invite you, with me, to take time for personal reflection, renewal, and resurrection. What opportunities exist for new life to spring forth from the tombs of despair and isolation? What hopes will you hold for a new and different future? And very importantly, how will you be changed and transformed by the experiences we have gone through individually and corporately?
Once they journeyed through the events of this week we call “holy,” the disciples were changed and transformed—they believed the world would be different and God’s love unleashed. As we make this journey, we are invited as Borg notes, to take Jesus seriously and center ourselves in a Spirit that opens us to the new and allows that which is old and weighing us down to pass away.
We experience Lent as a season in which the ice and snow around us, the loss and pain within us, begins to melt and spring truly takes hold in the promise of resurrection life.
Prayer: God, made known in daily living and in “holy weeks,” help us to let the old pass away and prepare our hearts and minds for new life—in us, in our relationships, and in the world. Prepare us for the new life you hold in store. Amen.
Bio: Pastor Brad is staying busy working from home (mostly) and trying to be a good distance learning teacher (a challenge some days!) To help mark the days there has been much cooking, walks with Bill, Torin, and their dog (Shelby), and reading.