Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Call of Lent

Something, someone is stirring. A voice is calling. In the deep of the night, we awake, feeling the voice inside of us. Gently, yet incessantly pressing, provoking, speaking. “Come away with me.” In the fullness of time, the Spirit calls and we can only follow.

We call this time “Lent.” By naming a time, we give it shape, we give it focus, we create space. As Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy suggests, “Time creates space.” We name our moments. The moments of my current waking hours, I call “today.” I awake today and join my voice with the voices of millions of Christians who have lived before me. We call this day, “Lent.”

Lent is a time for remembering. We remember the early church. During this time, new believers were trained in the faith and prepared for baptism and entrance in the church, the community of the God’s people. Even as we remember these early Christians, we remember Jesus entering the wilderness at the prompting of the Spirit.

Preparing for his ministry of life, he faces the power of death for forty days in the heat of the wilderness winds. The devil tempts him to give up. To lose hope. To take the easy way out. To forget the plans of the Father. Jesus resists him, emerging from the test in the power of the Spirit.

As we remember Jesus, we also remember another wilderness journey. When the time came to leave the cruel slavery of Egypt, the children of Israel followed the Spirit’s voice calling them through the wilderness and to the new world.

We remember and re-enact these wilderness travels: the stories swirling through our hearts and the heat burning in our soul. Inside these stories, live other stories. For the wilderness reveals a host of travelers in search of a new world. We meet David running from Saul, Elijah running from Jezebel, and Abraham running to Izaak.

We meet Job in the depths of an anguish that brings him to the end of his world. From this lonely peak of a dying world, he cries out to the Creator of all things. We meet Noah, who crosses the wilderness in an ark: for his desert is an ocean of destruction.

As we look around us at all these travelers, we suddenly realize everyone is traveling up a mountain. Towards the top of the mountain, we see Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah. On this mount of transfigured reality, we hear Jesus speaking of a new world: a new heavens and a new earth.

Soon our hearts burn for this world, this renewed Eden. Our hearts remember the burning that has always been there. For believers and non-believers alike burn for this new world, this Eden. We may use different words and we may not even express the longing of the soul, but deep inside burns a longing for a better place. A world free from violence, hatred, cruelty, pain.

Many people have tried to imagine this world. It does seem easy if we try. But soon our dreams turn to nightmares. For even as we long and burn and ache for this new world, we come to realize, we must come to realize: we are responsible for destroying this old world. How can we ever keep from destroying a new world?

Our words and our actions and our thoughts often hurt instead of heal. We long for something beautiful, but we can easily make something ugly like broken hearts, broken vows, broken bodies. The wilderness not only reveals our longings, it reveals our evil. This evil cannot enter the new world.

In helplessness we look back up the mount to Jesus speaking. We hear the faint whisper of a love that is revealed and realized fully in the cross. The cross leads from the end of one world to the beginning of another. The cross opens the door for a new heavens and a new earth.

So awake my friends. The time of Lent is before us. The wilderness beckons. The cross looms. And beyond the cross? A new heavens and a new earth. Come with me and let us travel to the Promised Land.

2 comments:

Milton Stanley said...

All right, buddy, let's get going!

Jean Solomon said...

This is very beautiful. I'd like to record it and put it on my blog www.LentEaster.com/blog/ as an mp3. I'll give you credit and link back to your blog. Please respond asap. Thanks.