A weekly Rector’s Notes article for Monday, March 30, 2020
And darkness is a harsh term don’t you think
And yet it dominates the things I see
It seems that all my bridges have been burned
But you say ‘That’s exactly how this grace thing works”
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start“Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons
Lent as a season is built upon anticipation.
The anticipation of Holy Week.
The anticipation of Easter and the release of the pent-up “ALLELUIA!”
That anticipation has taken a bit of a back seat this year as our world has come to a screeching halt. We’ve committed to these measures of public health and safety because they are imperative acts of Christian and neighborly love for one another. But, it is certainly understandable that it has been hard to stay in the anticipatory mindset of this season, with a joyful celebration waiting on the horizon, a joyful celebration that we knew (even if we weren’t yet ready to admit to ourselves) would not be in physical corporate worship with one another.
I’ve seen a statement floating around facebook made by a few different folks that “I didn’t anticipate giving up quite so much for Lent this year,” and “This is the Lent-iest Lent I’ve ever experienced.”
These statements certainly ring true in the sense of self-denial that has been mandated by our Governmental Authorities and in the commitment to faith that we are called to live into as people of faith who care for their neighbor, even when it is hard, even when it seems over-the-top, even when we disagree with measures that have been enacted.
They also point us back to what the purpose of Lent really is, something that we discussed in one of the last times we were able to gather together in person this year: “in imitation of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. The forty-day fast was especially important for converts to the faith who were preparing for baptism, and for those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly. In the western church the forty days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays. The last three days of Lent are the sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Today Lent has reacquired its significance as the final preparation of adult candidates for baptism. Joining with them, all Christians are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).
And in our observance this year, we focused in on the emphasis of reconciliation that is so clearly evident beginning with Ash Wednesday, that is the foundational piece of “those guilty of notorious sins who were being restored to the Christian assembly”.
As we approach Holy Week, beginning with our service of entry into the week with Palm & Passion Sunday, I encourage you to take some of your new found time of introspection and isolation to reflect on the themes of Lent, to consider who in your life you long for in this time, especially and particularly those whom you are estranged from but wish you were not, and consider what it will mean to reconcile with them when we can finally be with one another again (or even, what steps you may take now to begin that healing). For if anything from this time has shown me is that this life is entirely unpredictable and the unthinkable, unimaginable, stuff of fiction, can happen in this life (I mean, anybody else watching Tiger King?, I rest my case).
As the lyrics I posted at the top of this page state, Grace abounds even when all bridges have been burned, that Grace does not come in the journey home but in the welcome upon our restart. And it is this Grace that we anticipate in the form of the Resurrection that will happen on Easter Sunday, even in the time of COVID-19.
For more of my reflections on Resurrection in this time, I encourage you to listen to my latest podcast episode that is focused on that theme, linked below.
Details for Holy Week services will be posted later this week on our website at sslv.org/virtual-church and will be emailed out to our Newsletter contact list at that time.