As we’re all aware, Lent 2020 has been one heck of a Lent. Forces biological, economic and political, as well as, our own human condition have made this particular Lent feel strangely more intense. There is a lot of anxiety, fear, and loss due to the state of humanity we are facing in the world today. Yet still, there are surprise blessings. In the midst of such human suffering, we still find a way – a God-given way- to survive. So, while we are under an order of quarantine, and we’re hearing that the worst is yet to come, let us all not just seek to survive, but survive well. Surviving well forces us to rely on faith, hope and love evermore fully. We will survive well by keeping ourselves at home and keeping up the distancing. We will survive well by staying diligent with washing our hands, cleaning clothes, and surfaces. Most importantly, we will survive well because we will continue to practice the three pillars of Lent: praying, giving to those in need, and fasting. The end goal of these Lenten practices is always our conversion to greater faith, hope and love.
My Friends, Lent is soon over and Holy Week is upon us. This weekend we celebrate Passion Sunday which more frequently is known as Palm Sunday. This particular liturgical celebration poses a problem in our current situation. Since the readings for this day begin with a crowd scene, remembering Jesus’ triumphant entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem, the fact that we’re not physically present as a crowd of Christians seems incongruous. So, I’d ask you to allow the Holy Spirit to gather not our bodies, but our minds, our souls, and our imaginations together.
I also invite you to not focus on the crowds and the palms too much this year; instead get into Gospel that is the Passion of Jesus Christ. In the story of the Passion there are crowds, yes. However, there are also more intimate moments, like…
- The conversation Jesus had his closest disciples as they celebrated the Passover meal
- Jesus pleading prayer with a few of his disciples in the dark garden of Gethsemane
- Judas’ betraying kiss
- Jesus meeting Peter’s eye right after Peter denied him
- Jesus confronting the cynicism of Pilate, and a small group of women watching from a distance in heart-wrenching vigil as Jesus died on the cross
- Jesus, lifted up, crying out to God who seems to have left his Son all alone
These intimate moments, and others that might come to mind, speak to human experience profoundly. Then what we will celebrate on Easter, a week from Passion Sunday, will speak to the truth that Jesus’ suffering has meaning, purpose, and gives us the fullest sense of all that is intimate and communal. The truth for humanity is that through the grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus we are survivors over sin and death. So, we have nothing to fear. My friends, this is what we should really focus on. Focusing on this truth might put some of the suffering we’ve experienced recently in a different light.
So my friends, until you hear from me next week, know that I’m praying for all y’all. Please pray for each other, and pray for our world.