To my fellow pilgrims in this season of Lent
In the midst of the troubling news of the tragedy in Christchurch last week and heavy conversations with members of a farming community who are fast running out of water and feed as they wait and hope and pray for rain, it was particularly meaningful to celebrate the act of baptism and hear the familiar words:
… for you Jesus Christ has come, has lived, has suffered;Uniting in Worship
for you, he has endured the agony of Gethsemane and the darkness of Calvary;
for you, he has uttered the cry, ‘It is accomplished!’
For you, he has triumphed over death;
for you, he prays at God’s right hand.
All for you, even before you were born.
For me, Christ’s journey to the cross – much like God’s choice to come into our midst in the form of a tiny, vulnerable baby – is a poignant reminder that God shares in our daily life, our suffering, and our death, and that, one day, we will share in the power of Christ’s resurrection.
In Luke’s Gospel this journey (beginning shortly after his transfiguration) takes ten chapters to tell as Jesus follows the pilgrim’s route through Samaria; stops over with Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany; and even eats in the home of a tax collector in Jericho. Though Jerusalem is his destination, he does not rush or brush people off or dismiss the daily needs of fellow pilgrims on the way as petty in the grand scheme of what he will soon accomplish.
He heals. He teaches. He encourages. He comforts. He visits.
He takes his time because the salvation of the world is not only about an eternal end goal but about us knowing the blessing of God being close to us in each and every day of life’s journey.
In Luke 13:1-9, as he tells a tale about a fruitless fig tree to those who are wondering about whether God is with them in light of the terrible time that they have had of late, I identify with the owner of the vineyard who just wants to cut it down and clear the space for something better. I recognise that I am hasty and full of judgement. I confess that I get frustrated with things that eat up my time or energy without actually accomplishing anything. I acknowledge that my sense of time always seems more urgent than the gardener who not only asks that the poor fig tree be given another year, but promises to nurture and feed it that it may bear fruit.
The invitation of this week in Lent is threefold:
- to slow down! Take some time out to walk, to wander, to visit with a friend, to be still, to be open to signs of God’s love with and within you.
- to confess – our frustration, our impatience, our careless haste.
- to pray – for rain, for grace for the sinner and healing for the hurting, for the salvation of the world and for the part that God would have us play in it.
For us, Christ has endured much, accomplished much, and continues to pray much. May we, in turn, bear much fruit as we live in and with and through his great love for us.
Yours, in Christ,