A Lenton Reflection
In Lent we commemorate the journey of Jesus from Galilee where he spent the great majority of his time in ministry teaching, healing, and forming disciples to Jerusalem the religious center of Jewish life. The journey was a physical one from a place of fisherman to a cosmopolitan city. The physical journey was from 690 feet below sea level in Galilee to 800 feet below sea level in Jericho near the Dead Sea to about 2600 feet above sea level in Jerusalem. It was a physical journey of 94 miles that places physical challenges on people and is through some rugged, isolating terrain where safety can be in jeopardy.
The journey was a spiritual one from itinerant preacher in a far-off region to a challenger of the religious, social and political life of Israel in the center of Israel’s power structure. Would Jesus be one who transforms the fabric of life in Israel with power and what kind of power?
As Jesus in the period before what became Easter and has become Lent for the Christian community went through spiritual and physical transitions, we are in the midst of transitions:
- Personal – engagements, weddings, expecting babies, raising children, marital troubles, loneliness in relationships, loss of children, parents, grandparents, friends, economic pressures, unknown before us;
- Work – personal relationships, new ways of doing things, questions about the future, unknown before us; and
- Societally – social safety net versus can we afford it; conservative versus liberal; big government versus small government; individual rights versus communal rights; safety versus freedom.
Those are huge transitions and issues to deal with. The journey of Lent grounds us in being able to put some perspective as we live with those issues. It invites us to be involved in a process in 6 weeks through which we can physically change some of our world and spiritually prepare ourselves for the next beginning that God has for us.
One of my core beliefs is that God is not the God of endings but the God of beginnings. There is never an ending that happens in life with God that there is not a beginning for which God is preparing us. Lent is a proclamation of that belief. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday where we start the journey remembering who we are…we are dust and to dust we shall return. Our life in this world, in this way, is transitory. Life is always in transition. However, Lent travels to the cross and the tomb where we await the possibility of a transformed beginning…which happens at Easter!! A new beginning for which we have been prepared by our journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, from Ashes to the Light of Resurrection!
The 23rd Psalm comes from the ancient tradition of Israel and reminds us that in the midst of a particularly significant journey we need to be in the presence of God. The psalm proclaims that God has promised to accompany us on that journey guiding us and keeping us safe. It is a psalm that I invite you to learn by heart and recite daily during this journey of Lent as you and I go with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, from ending to beginning, through transition to transformation.