Spring is making herself known throughout the northern hemisphere right on cue in this season of Lent. As our Lenten journey winds itself into the intensity of the final days and Holy Week we are reminded once again that this spring time journey is about an ever newness, the slipping away of “former things” and “a new thing” emerging (Isaiah 43.16-21).
One of the gifts of Lent is that “the Lord has done great things for us” (Psalm 126). Yet I wonder if we can see these things? Do we get so caught up in broken Lenten promises or failed attempts in our practices that we fail to see the great things that have happened? Do we forget that even as we move towards the cross we are to be “filled with joy” (Psalm 126)?
When we hear great – we often think grand events, amazing feats or unexpected accomplishments. These are indeed great things. The great things that the Lord has done for us this Lenten season may be these but more often then not they are simple. Greatness such as prompting us to listen more closely to scripture, to share appreciation for someone in our life, for being in solidarity with the poor or refugee or for the gift of courage to begin again in week three or four or five with a Lenten promise we are stumbling along with this year.
Joy is a gift that is sustaining not fleeting; it comes to us as a great thing from the Lord. Joy this Lent may have come in the gift of the Eucharist that was presided over with dignity and depth, or reflecting on our calling and being able to say “yes Lord” I choose you or even in simple sips of tea in a quiet moment. New things, great things and joy emerge from the heart of our God daily we must learn to be awakened to them being entwined into our own hearts.
What former things am I letting go of?
What new thing is God doing in my life?
What great things has God done for us (for me) this Lent?
Where has my joy been?
Instead of condemning ourselves and everyone around us for our failed Lenten works, maybe we would do better to focus on the above questions. When Jesus was face to face with the woman caught in adultery (John 8.1-11), he did not look at her and say: “how dare you” or “you are pathetic” or “you disgust me.” No, Jesus looked at her with compassion, he looked at her and did not see her former things instead he looked at her and saw the new creation she was to be. Jesus looked at her with eyes of hope and saw the great thing God had done calling her again to life after being trapped in darkness and sin. Jesus looked at her and was filled with joy, delighting that she was standing before him filled with promise, renewed and not condemned rather given the gift of new life – transformed by love. Jesus allowed her to claim the love she was created in and how truly beloved she is.
Do we allow our lives to be transformed by this same love?
Do we allow our eyes to meet the eyes of Christ?
How do we let go of our trappings of darkness and sin?
How do we feel knowing that God delights in us always?
The true goal that we press on towards, the true prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (cf. Philippians 3.8-14) is to gaze into the eyes of Christ and know that we must let go of our former ways. New ways will be our true ways and that great things are indeed happening today and each day. The gaze of Christ is ours to meet each day. In our brothers and sisters, in our neighbours, in the strangers, in the breaking and sharing of bread, in beginning again even in these final days of Lent, in our prayer, in being able to even just whisper “I am beloved,”, in rejoicing and letting go. This is where we will and do encounter the joy of our God. It is in the daily living that we encounter Christ, we are restored and we “shall come home with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126).
Let us go forth into these late Lenten days filled with a hope which speaks of being not of former things rather newness which leads us to life. The breaking forth of a spring time which is true and lasting life. The hand of Jesus is again extended to us and he lifts us up to “go our way” not condemned rather filled with joy because we are God’s beloved made new.
Be aware this week of newness, great things and joy!
How is God speaking to you about these things?
Lenten Blessings of peace and all good.