"It is winter in Narnia," said Mr. Tumnus, "and has been for ever so long...always winter, but never Christmas." In the imaginative writing of Golden Halo 2011 winner C. S. Lewis, Narnia was in the grip of what seemed like an endlessly grim winter. It's not hard for us to grasp this image as the United States is largely covered with snow and filled with shivering people in the midst of a pandemic.
In the church, one would be forgiven for thinking it's always Lent and never Easter. Last year's Lent started pretty normally, but most churches closed to in-person worship before Holy Week. We started a Lenten journey that it may well seem we never finished. In the last year, we've been worn down by a pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Our normal patterns and beloved customs are disrupted.
One may wonder if we're in the grip of an endlessly grim Lent as we start anew our Lenten journey. After all, the previous Lent never seems to have ended. No matter how we celebrate Easter, or even if we skip it entirely, nothing can change the fact that the tomb was empty one morning long ago in ancient Jerusalem. We can't be sure what this year's Easter will look like. But we can be sure that Christians around the world will find ways to celebrate the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil, of love over sin, of life over death.
Jesus frees us from the grip of sin, and he certainly frees us from the grip of an endlessly grim Lenten journey.
At Lent Madness, we are fond of reminding people that Lent is not about misery, though it may sometimes be about fasting and self-denial. During the holy season of Lent, we "prepare with joy for the Paschal feast" as we turn our hearts and our lives toward Jesus. In that way, even in Lent, we are always suffused with joy.
This Ash Wednesday will be unlike any other. You may not even receive ashes. Fortunately, the real centerpiece of Ash Wednesday -- despite the name -- is not the mark of our mortality, but the invitation to a holy Lent, the litany of penitence, and the recitation of Psalm 51.
There are three verses of Psalm 51 that stand out to us as important this year as we contemplate the start of another Lenten journey.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence *
and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again *
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Today we step back from the usual silliness of Lent Madness to invite you to a holy Lent. Let us all pray that we might know the joy of God's saving help and the power of God's bountiful Spirit. By God's mighty grace, there is always Resurrection.
Wishing you a blessed Lenten journey,
Photo by flickr user Henna K.
Thank you. Very beautiful and so true.
Thank you - have a truly holy and blessed Lenten Season.
Beautiful. Just what I needed to hear as we wait for another winter storm and sing digit temps.
God bless you, Tim and Scott, with a Holy Lent.
Thanks for reminding me/us what Lent is really about. A loving God reminding us to know who He is and the Grace he gives us to be always in his service
Lent is not about misery. Thank you so much for this reminder.
So if not misery, what? Maybe about anticipation? In my very visual way of meditating I see the road forking in front of me. The smaller road is more intriguing, less traveled so to speak, or maybe more narrow, maybe promising some discoveries, leading to a larger life. So, if not misery, maybe adventure, maybe a trip away from my normal rounds of doing things. Maybe writing/journaling more, reading those spiritual practice books that I buy and leave half read. Thanks again.
Beautiful. That old adage “every cloud has a silver lining” is so true. We can use this time of trouble, to reflect and change; to expand our horizons.
Thank you for the reminder that God's love shines on us all, through all seasons, and most brightly as a beacon for us in our darkest hours. Blessings to all from here in Summerville, SC.
What a beautiful message to start the day! Thank you for being here & something we can turn to and count on. Lots of love from Colorado!
Exactly how we need to start Lent and also remember others who need a virtual hug
Thought-provoking. Beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you Tim and Scott. You always find the right words at the right time.
Thank you for this - these same thoughts crossed my mind this morning and I was contemplating how many weeks I feel I have been in this season of Lent, with the sacrifices we all had to endure with the pandemic, which has brought us closer through prayer, renewed faith and the hope of what is to come.
I agree with the others who have commented--Thank you. This is what I needed to hear.
Really wonderful words. Thank you again for the reminder that it's not about ashes, but rather "a holy Lent." A huge difference, especially with all the news stories about inventive ways to do ashes. Appreciate your perspective and good writing!
I read this just as I got off virtual Ash Wednesday service. We marked the sign of the cross on our foreheads without ashes. Our priest suggested that perhaps we should mark the sign every morning when we get up. We have been reminded this past year of death and suffering. Let us be thankful that we are here.
Nicely said. Thank you.
Thank you for this. Well said.
Thank you for your thoughtful invitation to a Holy Lent.
I can't believe I look forward to Lent now. What does that say about me? I never did as a boy.... I hope I'm deeper with age and not just turning into a curmudgeon...or enjoying a bracket overly much. May the prayers of this Lent usher in a wonderful Easter for all of us.
Here in the chilly Berkshires of Western Mass., we're observing Mask Wednesday, a blessing of the masks to "remind us that despite our finite and fractured state, we are to live our lives loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Our masks are the symbol of that very love."
Thank you for those wonderful words as we start our lenten journey for this year.
Thank you. That is a beautiful meditation, and great words to start the day and the season.
My favorite three verses of 51 that I recite daily!!
Thank you so much. I’ve been wanting to reread those Narnia books, and I love this reference.
As always, the community is one of the blessings of Lent Madness -
But your introduction to the Season with Psalm 51 was. An answer to my need for
Wisdom and peace - Thank you so much for reminding us of the context of Lent,
During a pandemic that has robbed us all of much of the context of our every day
lives - Thank you, and God Bless -
Tim and Scott,
Like a kid, right after Christmas, I always look forward to today with great anticipation. Despite working from home, worries about my kids and family, worries about what things we hear about in the news, I still have this excitement and expectation. Thank you so much
Thank you for this thoughtful reflection as we enter into the Lenten season. May we all come to know the joy of God's saving help throughout our lives, and especially during this time of global pandemic.
I have been such depression, and love your message.