So, it’s not quite a blizzard is it? But in Texas terms, it’s basically unprecedented. It’s a once in a generation kind of winter storm we are experiencing this week.
Feels like the last year, has been full of the unprecedented.
Last year, the beginning of the pandemic fell during Lent, the season set aside to prepare our hearts for the death that defeated all death.
We saw deep racial discord the weeks leading up to and on Pentecost, the day set aside to remember how God has united His people by His Spirit.
Our nation experienced civil unrest like many of us have never seen in our lifetimes on January 6, the day of Epiphany, the day set aside to remember the glory of Jesus Christ.
And this winter storm, just so happens to fall at the beginning of Lent.
This past year, we have seen much of the world’s current brokenness fall on the very days the church sets aside to remember God’s work to reverse the curses unleashed by sin.
It’s been a full year, yet as surely as those days have been marked by the present suffering, deeper still is the reality that God sets apart His people and invites us to remember Him as uniquely working in the midst of this broken world.
In God’s providence, we find ourselves entering Lent this year in the bitter cold. With a new season upon us and snow all around us, we have the opportunity to lean into the set apartness of the season and reflect on the world’s need, our dependence, and our vulnerability. Where we remember that there is a God, but we are not Him.
At Mosaic we call Lent the “long valley to Easter.” Like Advent, Lent is a season where we deliberately step into reflection on the greatness of God and our absolute dependence as creatures.
Ash Wednesday whispers Genesis 3:18 to us, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
And this whisper echoes throughout Lent: We are dust, but God is not.
We have need, God does not.
We may die, but God will not.
And in the end, death is defeated forever and everyone experiences resurrection.
Resurrection to fellowship with God or resurrection to forever without God.
Traditionally, ashes are applied to the foreheads of Christians in Ash Wednesday services as a reminder that we are not God, that apart from God’s intervention in resurrection power...we will return to the dust in death.
Lent encourages us to sow a holy unrest and discontentment with the brokenness of the world and our lives. And then, to bring this unrest to God in prayer and fasting.
Lent is anchored by a hope, a hope that after the last year can appear faint on the horizon of our storm tossed lives. The hope that a day is coming where the resurrected Christ will appear and death and darkness will be defeated for good, forever.
The long valley to Easter opens up to a beautiful view: The glory of the resurrected Christ.
But before we get to that vista, we are greeted by the blessed darkness of the cross.
What are we to do with beginning Lent in a blizzard? What are we to do with the last year so full of our brokenness and that of the world?
The best (and sometimes only) thing to do is to come to God, with humble hearts in prayer. As Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
And we pray:
“Almighty and everlasting God, You hate nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins may receive from You, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”