March 2, 2022
Return to the Cross
Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent. By definition, Lent is a period lasting 40 days in our liturgical calendar from now, Ash Wednesday, until Holy Thursday (also known as Maundy Thursday). Moreover, Lent is a journey that the Church is invited to participate in. In regards to the journey, I wanted to raise and then answer a few pivotal questions. Who are we journeying with? What are we journeying to?
Who are we journeying with?
We are journeying first and foremost with Jesus Christ. This is both imaginary and literal. In our hearts and minds, we imagine journeying with Jesus after his Transfiguration on the mount as he then resolutely faced Jerusalem and marched towards his destiny at Calvary. We do this by reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s journey towards the Holy City and taking note of what he did along the way, the reaction of his followers, and that his faithfulness never wavered. We also emulate Christ’s journey in our own lives as we use Lent to focus on prayer and Bible study, generosity (some traditions call it alms giving), and self-denial (many people give up certain food, caffeine, social media). In this, our hearts are purified as this journey causes us to gaze inside our souls and repent of sin.
We also journey together. Both as a local church but also the Church, we are doing similar things during this time frame. This is unique because often different denominations keep us from having shared experience. However, Lent brings us together as one where we have common points of reference and can share dialogue about our lived experience. This is to be of great encouragement to us because Christians need to constantly surrounded in their community of faith.
What are we journeying to?
We are journeying to the cross. We go with Jesus to the place of his crucifixion which represents the atonement for all of our sins so that we might be forgiven. He and he alone offers salvation for the human soul. For such a blessing to be offered to us through such a cruel instrument of death and separation, causes us to revere his sacrifice as a significant demonstration of God’s love. It’s difficult to confront the reality that human sin necessitated Christ’s sacrifice. That means that you and I have made decisions not in God’s will that created a divide between us and God’s presence. We must return to the cross though and admit the error of our way while also using the cross as inspiration to renew our dedication to the journey of our Christian walk. In fact, the journey cannot get to its final destination unless we do.
The final destination of the journey is the empty tomb, but in order to embrace the empty tomb, we must return to the cross. The empty tomb of Jesus Christ signifies resurrection, victory over death, and ultimate freedom to be the people God has called us to be. Oh how we all want to get there, and we will. Easter is coming, but first let us return to the cross and let it prepare our hearts appropriately for the empty tomb. In fact, that is what we will be doing each Sunday during lent starting this Sunday, March 6th. We will return to the cross and study its implications. As we do, our anticipation for Christ’s victory and ultimate liberation of our souls will increase until that moment of crescendo on Sunday April 17th on Easter Sunday when God’s people gather to proclaim, “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” I look forward to journeying with Jesus together with you. I want all of us to return to the cross together and then the empty tomb. Will you join me?