Lent

Holy Week: The things that make for peace

And throwing their garments on the colt, they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. 

The disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" 

… And when Jesus drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace!"     (Luke 19)

"Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord," the cry goes up.  People throw palm branches into the road in front of him as Jesus approaches, a poor man's ticker-tape parade.

Around a bend, there suddenly is Jerusalem. Jesus draws back on the reins. Crying disfigures his face. "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace." 

The things that make for peace.  We do not know these things, Jesus says, and God knows he's right. The absence of peace within our own skins no less than within our nations testifies to that. 

So as Holy Week begins, let us name instead the one who is himself the Prince of Peace.

Jesus is our only hope: the hope that finally by the grace of God the impossible will happen. 

Despair and hope. They travel the road to Jerusalem together, as together they travel every road we take ---despair at what we bring down upon our own heads and hope in him who travels the road with us and for us.  

Hope in the King who approaches every human heart like a city. And it is a very great hope as hopes go and well worth all our singing and dancing and sad little palms because not even death can prevail against this King and not even the end of the world, when end it does, will be the end of him and of the mystery and majesty of his love. 

Blessed be he.            (adapted from Frederick Buechner)

LENT: Return with your Whole Heart

ASH WEDNESDAY: THE INVITATION TO RETURN

You and I drift away from our true home.  We forget that we are God's beloved.  We forget that we are not God.  We succumb to the temptations of money, sex and power.  We ignore the cries of our brothers and sisters. We focus only on ourselves.

During Lent -- the forty days before Easter -- God calls us home. God invites us to remember who we are.  To let God be God in our lives.  To respond to our suffering neighbor.  To begin again with God.

Only when the fierce love of God, fully revealed in the Crucified One, pierces our hearts, do we truly return to the God who longs for us.      {adapted from Trevor Hudson}

Marked by Ashes

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
     halfway back to committees and memos,
     halfway back to calls and appointments,
     halfway on to next Sunday,
     halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
     half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
   but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
     we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
       of failed hope and broken promises,
       of forgotten children and frightened women,
     we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
     we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
   some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
   anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
   you Easter parade of newness.
   Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
     Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
     Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
   Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
     mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

---Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)