Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amhert, NY
It is that time of year again. It is time to reflect and repent, to recommit and reconcile. It is time to give up sweets and eat more fish. It is time to journey to the cross where softly and tenderly Jesus is calling. On March 6th the season of Lent begins.
The season of Lent begins with a solemn reminder: Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. In Lent our human frailty and weakness are immediately put on display. (In the words of some barstool prophet: You’re not getting out of this alive.) Where cross the crowded ways of life – where grief, toil, sorrow, and greed lay claim – we hear the voice of Jesus saying: come home. In this season we are reminded of death and suffering.
Sundays and Palm Sunday
We journey with Jesus through the barren wilderness and into the broken crowds. We witness as the devil is resisted, as demons are cast out, as the dead are raised to new life, and as healing is offered to the masses. Confronted with the realities of a world run by sin, death, and devil, we discover there’s a wideness in God’s mercy. As we prepare the royal highway, we hear the cries of “Hosanna!” followed by the jeers of “Crucify!” We are reminded of the reality of sin and scandal.
Our journey will take us to a crowded upper room where the Lord of all creation will get on bended knee to wash the feet of sinful men. They will protest; he will insist. We will discover that this is how it works in the Kingdom of God. We serve one another… all of us. In this sacred space a new law will be given: love one another. As the deer runs to the river, we will run to God’s table where we are reminded that he is broken and poured out for us.
The journey will take us to the foot of the cross where even our Lord is left to wonder: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? We will hear the story of political and religious corruption. We will watch as an innocent man is put to death for loving too much. There in God’s garden we will tremble as we ask one another: were you there when they crucified my Lord? We are reminded of his sacrifice and love.
In this season we will refrain from singing Hallelujah. Our new refrain will be: create in me a clean heart, oh God. We place our hope in a seed that in earth is dying, confident that resurrection is right around the bend. (As the other barstool prophet announces: Sunday’s comin’.) May we begin this journey with the confident acclamation: lead on, O King eternal.
Let us pray. Oh Lord, throughout these forty days we ask your blessing upon your church. Draw us near to you always and inspire us by your love. Help us to see in death the gate to eternal life. Christ, the life of all the living, grant us peace, hope, and courage as we boldly journey through the season of lent. Unite us. Strengthen us. Send us forth to serve. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bless now, O God, the journey. WAY-ward,
P.S. There are 13 hymn titles in this article. Can you find them all?
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.