Thursday, April 4, 2024

Longer than Lent. . .

As everyone knows or should know, Lent is forty days.  It is a long season not because of how many days are in Lent but usually because of the extras that seem to fill Lent up and make those days busier and pass more quickly.  From Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday is a blink of an eye on one hand and a marathon on the other.  Then you enter into Holy Week which is as busy as a whole season of Lent compacted into seven days.  For me literally it is 10 liturgies and sermons before we even get to Easter Sunday.  Yet for all the energy this consumes, it also seems to reward with just enough stamina to make it through until the final Divine Service of Easter Sunday is finished (3 Easter sermons and liturgies to add onto Holy Week).

How odd it is, then, that at this stage of my life I only now realized that the Easter season is longer -- not forty days but fifty!  The calendar is telling us something.  Indeed, Easter is longer than Lent for good reason.  This does not mean to erase the cross and its central focus through Lent and Holy Week but to make sure we recall the end of the story.  Right there in the middle, seemingly at the crux of it all, is the Easter Vigil -- the night of nights that gives birth to the light.  Sadly, not enough of our folks attend the Vigil and make the walk through darkness into the light that darkness can never overcome.

Maybe it is obvious but just maybe we have missed that Easter is longer than Lent.  He will bring to completion what He began in us and the goal of it all is the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting as we confess in the Creeds.  The Apostles' Creed which serves as the baptismal creed reminds us of the outcome of our faith and the work of God making sure that we make it to the end.  The Easter elephant in the room is that we do believe in “the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”  With this we affirm that God created us in order to have eternal life with Him and that Jesus became incarnate, lived obediently, died once for all, and rose to deliver us to this everlasting life.  So great is the love of the Father for us that He would send His only-begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not die but live with Him and in Him the life that can never more be surrendered or stolen from us again.  If it takes forty days for us to realize what sin had done and why sin required such a Savior, it just might take us ten more days longer than Lent to realize that our best life is not now but then, this life is not the measure of who we are but the eternal life, and our greatest treasure is not the bundle of experiences or richness of our earthly days but the beyond all imagination of that which God has prepared for us and for all who love His appearing.

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