Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Lent - A Journey With Christ
by Rev. Bill Marler
Many people look forward to spring break, especially if a vacation or special
trip to a special place can be planned (and afforded!). How wonderful to be a
Christian with such a gracious God, who, among so many other blessings and
gifts, provides His people with an annual springtime journey that is well planned,
already paid for, and as special as any time and place can be on earth! Curious?
Want to sign up and go?
This year–2012–the journey begins on Wednesday, Feb. 22. And that is the day, fellow Christian, on which you ought to get on board. This journey is best celebrated and appreciated when you make the commitment from beginning to end. It is a 40-day pilgrimage with seven great weekends included, the final week of the journey guaranteed to be the greatest week of the year! How can you afford such a journey? Your trip is already paid for! He who paid your total fare also made it possible for you to be included on this annual voyage of a lifetime. And there’s more! He is also your Host on this journey. He will travel with you each day to make sure you get everything promised in the journey’s package. Are you ready now to receive the details from this amazing Host, so you can be booked on board?
Welcome to the annual Lenten season of the Christian Church on earth.
Your host is none other than the Savior of the world, the eternal Word, the Second
Person of the one, true God, the Triune God. Yes, in the flesh this host is known
as Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of the Jewish believers and of the whole world.
This journey is one of the oldest in history, dating back nearly 2,000 years, so it is
indeed well planned and well tested. Your Host Jesus promises that this journey
cannot crash; even the gates of hell could not crash this wonderful trip!
Your fare was also paid for all those centuries ago when Jesus Himself first went
on this same journey, blazing the way we can now joyfully follow. From His own
Baptism, temptation and assaults in the bleak wilderness from none other than
the devil himself, and journey through life to His triumphant entry into Jerusalem,
to the Upper Room of the New Covenant, to the cross at Calvary, and to his grave,
Jesus was paying the price for all of us to take this journey. Much of the landscape
here on earth has not completely changed, but, going before us,
He has made these pathways of our journey safe and passable.
He will meet you when you come on board Feb. 22. He will be present in all
the Divine Services in Lent, including special weekday services that focus on the
work of the Holy Spirit through the means of grace as He deepens your faith,
refreshes your spirit, and guides you in the joyful obedience of discipleship.
Such great gifts and blessings you will receive. You will be overwhelmed at how your
Host makes this such a meaningful journey as you find new health and strength
within yourself, reflecting upon baptism and receiving renewal in preparation for the grand finale on Easter morning.
By the end of longer vacations and trips, people usually experience fatigue.
On your Lenten journey, you grow stronger and are ready for the greatest, final week
of this experience. What special places in history we find ourselves!
On Palm Sunday we are brought into ancient Jerusalem on a most festive day,
into Holy Week and into the heart of Jesus’ Passion. The Host often hands our own
children palm branches to wave during worship, to include us in this true narrative of His humility. The popular God who throws us a great party with the promise of prosperity and
power — Him we worship in the middle of the parade.
But could our “Hosannas to the Son of David” disintegrate
in a matter of hours into a “Crucify Him?” On to Maundy
Thursday and Good Friday to continue the divine drama
of these three wonderful spaces and times of Holy Week,
taking us on an emotional roller coaster ride, even though
we already know and believe how the journey ends—at the
empty tomb in bright Easter victory!
All aboard! Do not pass up the journey of the year, for this promise, offered
only through the Church, is for you and for your children!