During both of the “high” seasons of the church year, we talk a lot about change and growth. Both of them point toward a “high point” and tell us that we have to prepare, that we have to get ready. When you think about it, Advent points us toward a birth and Lent points us toward a re-birth. During Advent, we are told over and over again that we have to open our lives and open our heart so that we can receive the Christ-child into our heart, so that we will know what it means for Jesus Christ to enter our life. In essence, we have to be virgin, pure, open to receive and birth Christ in our own life. Tis the season of receiving!
During this season of Lent, though, things change. It is not just about receiving Christ or believing that Christ was resurrected or viewing Christ as the Messiah, or the Savior, or God Incarnate. We have to do more than just believe the story. We have to do more than just believe in Jesus Christ. The only way to prepare oneself to walk this way of the Cross is through total and complete surrender of everything one thinks and everything one is. We have to begin to become one with the Risen Christ. We have to enter the Way of Christ. We have to give our lives and our hearts and everything we know over to God. We become one with God. You see, the point, I think, is that Jesus did not merely die on the cross to wipe my sin away or insure me everlasting life. I think it was a bigger deal than that. The cross is the point of recreation. God took something so horrific, so unimagineable, so inhumane, and turned it into life. All of Creation, all that we know, all that we thought changed at that moment. The earth shook and gasped because nothing would ever be the same again. The intention was not to just clean each of us and set us back on the same path. We really are supposed to become something new. And without death (as in “dying to self”), without handing over one’s life, without letting go of all those things to which you hold so tightly that really have meaning only to you, without giving all that you have and all that you are, God cannot make something new. God cannot create life. Tis the season of giving!
There are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into [God’s] hands and let themselves be formed by grace. (St. Ignatius of Loyola, 16th century)
So, follow the one who came that you might have life!
Grace and Peace,