Dear Sisters and Brother in Christ,
The days of Lent are waning, even as the chill air refuses to loosen its grip. We are about to step into the holiest of times for Christian people. Over this holy season of Lent I have journeyed with some of the writings of C.S. Lewis, and a couple of them resonate with me in profound ways.
As you read this, no doubt you will be keenly aware that we are beginning the Holy Week journey, and the narratives of the weeks are ripe with key elements of Lent – prayer, fasting, and self-denial. We have talked about it before, so you may well recall that I have long considered the journey of Lent to be one that is not very much about giving up this or that; nor is it about what I call “bad me syndrome;” nor are we to be maudlin about ourselves or the human condition. It is about changing, reshaping, whatever parts of ourselves impair our journey with and in God’s love. Such impairment seems to happen when each of us gets me-centric – when we lose true humility. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, gets quickly to the heart of the matter: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
The intentionality of our journey really requires that we go all the way from the palm parade, to the upper room, to the garden at Gethsemane, to Caiaphas’ palace, and, yes, the cross. For as much as we want the gift of the empty tomb and the everlasting life it offers, if we skip these moments, the gift given on the cross is lost, or deeply obscured and despair can hem us in on every side. Again, Lewis’ words remind us of that precious and tender gift: “We need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.” It is Jesus’ perfect gift, and it is given to us all.
So we ache for Easter even before Holy Week begins. We can hardly hold back, but we are not done yet. The cross and the empty tomb are the consummate gift of love – given unresisting and undeservedly. It is perfect, and it calls us to the perfection which is living in, and inviting others into, that love.
Your heart longs for it. So, for the love of God (literally), come join us for the journey.
In the love of Christ,
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.