The Unraveling of Lent

Lent is unraveling. Two weeks ago, a couple of people walked about of one of my sermons.  They just got up and left. No, they weren’t late for a ferry or sick with the flu. My words made them uncomfortable. In this season of polarization, maybe these kinds of incidents are inevitable.   We are being pulled in many infinite directions.  There seems to be no end in sight.

The denomination is coming apart so why not Lent.  Easter, the season which Lent will eventually give way to, will be marked by a great schism between heaven and earth. The temple curtain will be torn in two. Life will be ripped from death. On Easter Sunday morning, the universe will give way, and the void of the empty tomb will reveal the Resurrection.

Lent is about seeing what separates us from the disciples we hope to be and the God we’re trying to serve. If we’re not careful, lent demands we come apart at the seams. We will be asked to unravel completely. This is because Easter is not a restoration or a patchwork quilt of emotions and life. Instead, the resurrection experience is a whole encounter with renewal. No one is the same after an Emmaus Road conversation. Easter doesn’t put the pieces back together. Your perspective from the inside out. This is why Lent is an unraveling. The fifth Sunday of Lent and the approach of Palm Sunday feel grim, frayed, and fraught with dismay. What did I expect?  Lent is where the rubber meets the road. Jesus is going to die, and it’s not pretty.  It’s capital punishment we’ve made into our central religious ritual.  Sunday is a long way away. It’s getting to be time for the gut check. Am I on for the entire ride?  We’ll see.

Richard Lowell Bryant

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