A Drop in Vegetable Sales Ushers in Lent

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

And so it begins. Another Lent when we give up peas (my husband’s favorite sacrifice) but not our belief that we are such wretched souls that a vindictive God demanded the death of his son to fix it.

A sort of bait and switch tactic which is kinda genius if it weren’t for the fact that God deals with stupid humans. I mean, it’s not like all of humankind did an immediate about face and never sinned again. If God really devised this plan to correct the stupidity of Adam and Eve it didn’t work. We have continued to sin and fall short of the glory of God. So, what would have been the point?

Even so, I think this belief is easy for us to buy into because it makes no demands on us. It’s a bit like believing “fortified” Froot Loops are healthy! No kids – they’re NOT! So spit it out and go get yourself some common sense! GEEEEZZZZZ.

I hate to admit that I lived comfortably for many years in that safe place too. Eventually it grew impossible for me to accept such an untruth in light of the God I grew to know intimately. How can anyone “know” God you ask? – By experiencing his essence in the beauty of nature, the love of family, the compassion of friends, and the thoughtfulness and generosity of strangers.

Jesus’ Passion should declare the unbridled love of God for us. The cross should upend any denial that he loves us deeply and obsessively. But, as Hebrews 10:31 tells us, “It’s just way to scary to fall into the hands of the living God” (loose translation). That is not a god we want to snuggle up to. We prefer a god like that unpredictable crazy uncle we keep at a distance. Genesis 3:8 insists that Adam and Eve ran and hid from that God!

Every single blessed year Lent calls us to look at the cross differently. It’s a perpetual life lesson that keeps showing up forty days a year, year end and year out, until we “get it”! If we get it at all.

Will we ever wake up to the beauty of the cross? I believe that can only be possible through the eyes of faith – illuminated by the grace of a tender, loving God.

In order for that to happen though, we must be willing to fix an unwavering gaze at the cross and realize the true meaning of Jesus’ Passion. We must embrace with faith – even if it’s a bit shaky – the reality that the crucifixion on Friday and empty tomb on Saturday were necessary for the revelation of the profound mystery that is God manifest through Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Prepare the way…for…the Easter Bunny?

 

(Originally posted on March 26, 2012)

Today is Ash Wednesday. We are called at this time to contemplate more deeply the life, death and wondrous Resurrection of Christ.

Knowing what must take place before that glorious day should cause us to tremble – but we’re too busy.

The soon to be revealed and unimaginable love of God for us should bring us to our knees – but we’re too afraid.

The reality of the cross should cause us to beg forgiveness for our sinfulness – but we’ve become desensitized to sin.

We don’t cry out to God because we’re afraid he’ll answer!

And so, for many of us, Easter comes and goes with little more fanfare than any other Sunday.

Consider this:

  • While we prepare the menu for an Easter feast; Jesus is preparing for the Last Supper.
  • While we scrub the house for guests – Pilate washes his hands of the people’s demand for Jesus’ death.
  • While we are shopping for new outfits – Jesus is stripped, humiliated and brutally beaten.
  • While we look forward to having all the family together again; kids home from college, parents arriving soon – on the long walk to Calvary, Jesus and his mother touch for a moment as their eyes reveal the unspeakable pain of their suffering.
  • While we are feeling left to do all the work, and have our annual pity party – Jesus, in his weakened state, struggles with the weight of the cross he carries, alone and abandoned by those who called themselves his disciples.
  • While we fuss over last-minute appearances playing beat the clock: taming cowlicks, straightening ties, new shirt without stains, socks that match – Jesus’ face is streaked with blood and his broken body is no longer recognizable.

Could we even bear to consider what just happened? Jesus as the Incarnation of God is the fullest expression of God’s own self. God is relentless, extravagant, merciful, indiscriminate, gratuitous, enduring, and grace-filled Love!

In this most holy season of Easter we are called to remember and celebrate that Love. But, not just that! Jesus never said, “Worship me.” He said, “Follow me. Do what I do.” What difference does it make if we have not changed in some way; if Monday is just business as usual; if we step over our suffering brothers and sisters on our way to more important things?

When did you quit believing in the Easter Bunny?

When did you quit believing the message of the cross and the empty tomb?

One is life altering the other is not.