In a few short weeks we begin the season of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday on February 17th. The colors of the church paraments will change from the joyful green of Epiphany to purple which is the color of reflection and preparation for the celebration of Easter on April 4th. Looking back over the short time since the beginning of the church year on the 29th of November, it feels like we have had very little time to enjoy the coming of our King. We have just been celebrating His Birth and His revelation to the world and now we are thrust into a period of penance, looking toward His suffering and death on calvary. Maybe I’m just imagining what seems an abrupt jump into this season of reflection. Yet, Easter is coming quite early this year. Perhaps the pandemic and all the introspective and isolative aspects of this time have also served to foreshorten our sense of celebrations. We all feel more and more trodden down by the circumstances with which we are faced and have not had a lot of joy.
Considering all this, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the season of Lent anticipates the great joy of Easter – despite its penitential nature. This point should be an energizing theme for us during this time of reflection, and also for the circumstances in which we find ourselves with the pandemic. Disease, misery and death are indeed realities which we cannot escape. They scream loudly in our ears and are boldly in our faces, but these are transitory and are fleeting compared to the riches and wonders that await us all. Let us not lose sight of the sturdy and certain promises of God, which are ours in Christ Jesus. As the apostle Paul tells us:
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. . . . . the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8: 18, 19, 21.
Keep sight of the prize that awaits all who trust in the Holy Name of Jesus! Our reward has been fought for – bought and paid for – and stands ready for us to claim it. We need only endure to the end. Matthew tells us, that “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24: 13) and in Hebrews we hear: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10: 35) We are also told to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” so that we may “. . . run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2) Trusting in the One who has instilled such faith in us, we know that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1: 6)
We have every reason to be hopeful and confident of the fulfillment of this. Though we may do so in reflection of the great price that has been paid for our salvation, let us also rejoice in the One who instills such confidence in us and give thanks that He is ever true to His promise in Christ. Come sit by me on the porch a while. The view looks really good from here.