We all know what Lent is supposed to look like. It looks like ashes and penitence and meditation and self-reflection. We know what Lent is supposed to feel like. It feels like a time to carve out solitude and reflect on the journey. Well, dear friends, we have certainly found Lent. Oh my, have we found it. But this doesn’t feel or look right, at all. We are in turns, isolated and worried. And in waves that are catching me off guard downright scared. Most of the time it is okay. We are safe and housed and blessed. But then it hits hard. This pandemic carries so much devastation and loss of life and it is not over, and we do not know when it will end – nor when it will touch someone we dearly love. My own strange new fear is this: What if I become ill and I cannot continue, with Pastor Sam, to reach out to you. You have your own fears, I know. Fears, that like me, you are only barely able to voice.
And then there is the grace. The phone call or text that draws us from our fear and reminds us that we are not alone. For me, the chance to make my college daughter breakfast, because she is home. The rising sun and the gift of the new day that looks surprisingly familiar, when all around us is in disarray.
It is Lent, but Holy Week is coming. Soon we will join Jesus at table as he washes his disciples feet. We will journey to a cross and perhaps feel more acutely than ever this year, the pain of death and the weight of tears. Then we will vigil, as we are vigiling now. We will wait for the night to break into new dawn. We will wait, locked in our upper rooms, for the sabbath restrictions to be lifted. We will wait to run to an open tomb and a risen Lord and a new day and the chance to breath new air.
It is Lent, but Easter is coming. We are waiting, but resurrection is at hand. We will not wait forever. God will bring resurrection. Of this I am sure. And while we wait, we will love one another, more and more. We will reach out more and more in compassion and care to our most vulnerable neighbors. We will all get zoom accounts and gather for worship across the internet and text “the peace of the Lord” to everyone we know. We will be God’s church in this time and we will be loved by God in this time and we shall not be alone.
It is too early to know the lessons of this wilderness time, but they are here. I can feel the keener edge of grace. It is so near. The palpable gift of compassion and the simple gift of kindness to one another. The planet is healing as we step back and there are lessons here as well. We are redefining community and we are learning, maybe for the first time, its real gift. God always makes grace from sorrow.
And so, dear friends, hold on. Hold on to those you can touch and hold on to all that will yet be. It is Lent for certain, but Easter is coming. Resurrection is God’s plan for us all. Not on one single day, but on each day. On each new day, may you be blessed. On each day, may God hold your fear and shelter you in grace. Know that I miss you and I am praying for you, as is Pastor Sam. We will all pray for each other until that Resurrection dawn.
Happy Easter to you all.
He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!