Greetings my siblings in Christ! Though it seems we just put the Christmas decorations away, March 2nd is Ash Wednesday and just like that, another season of Lent is upon us.
Lent has traditionally been a time when followers of Christ prepare themselves, both physically and spiritually, for the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday.
Some will give up certain foods over the next six weeks. Others might desire to pray more and perhaps read from the Scriptures each day. These and many other ways can help us draw closer to God and if they do, I say “Yes and amen” to them!
But I would ask, “What are your actual expectations for the Lenten season?” I hope for me and for you that we are not simply doing the same things we have done in the past without giving them much thought. We seemingly get out of Lent exactly what we put into it, making it easy to set the bar low with regard to our expectations.
I have a tendency to do this. I might tell myself this is a defense against getting disappointed, but it is a shallow approach to things, especially in things related to God.
As we journey through Lent together this year, I ask you to consider Simon of Cyrene as someone who had their expectations jarred by an encounter with God. We don’t know much about him other than what the gospel tells us: As they led Jesus away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26 NRSV)
We can infer from the text that Simon was coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. No doubt this was a journey he had taken year after year. If he shared our common tendency to expect the usual, we can assume what a shock it was to be thrust into the Passion of the Lord. In other words, was he really expecting an encounter with God, or was he going through the familiar motions of tradition? Where do we land when we apply this thought to ourselves?
My hope and prayer for all of us is that we continue to raise the bar of expectation: God is big enough to handle it! And not only that God would do something extraordinary, but maybe more so that God be revealed to each of us in new ways in the ‘usualness’ of our lives. May we use this Lenten season to help us draw nearer to God and as we do, that our expectations are raised to higher levels.
Be blessed and be a blessing,