March 2009 - Lent and Cycles of Worship
How would you define the term, “Cycle”? A synonym for “cycle” is the word rhythm or “regular recurrence”. In the beginning, God created cycles. He created the sun, the stars, and the moon to give us rhythm and order to our lives. So for everything, there is a time or season. Ecclesiastes chapter 3: 1-8 reminds us that,
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Lent is such a time: a time to prepare for the greatest event in the history of our planet and of the universe; a time when God restored our fallen relationship with Him by sending His Son to heal the wound of that severed relationship; a time when we were restored to our place in Heaven (Ephesians 2:4-7 – But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ).
Lent is the regular recurrence in the cycle of life through which we remind ourselves of what our Savior and Lord, Jesus the Messiah did for us. God raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus! Notice that these underlined words are past tense. They already occurred!!! What does that mean for us? Simply put, when Christ died and was resurrected to sit at the “right hand of the Father,” we were raised with him! But how could that be, since we weren’t even born yet? It is called “inheritance”. For those who have been baptized into the Body of Christ, we have an inheritance in the heavenly places already prepared for us! We were set apart (sanctified) for a heavenly purpose (holy). And now, we are to live holy lives as though we have already received our inheritance...
Life here on earth has a tendency to fill our experience on the road to salvation with big pot holes. These grab our attention, and as we cycle through the year, we tend to take our minds off Christ and put them on the pot holes. Lent gives us a yearly opportunity to restore our vision heavenward, to remind ourselves of our inheritance as children of God, and to cleanse our hearts, minds, and souls for the feast of feasts - the celebration of the resurrection of Christ and our elevation into the heavenly kingdom.
Does this sound strangely familiar to you? Maybe you read a message similar to this last year, or the year before, or heard it in church? Well guess what? The “cycle” of Lent grants me the opportunity to make this message a “regular recurrence”. What does that mean to you, the reader? Simply put, “be prepared to read things you have read before. And be prepared to read them again, down the road a piece...”
This message is too important to say only once and then forget it. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have an annual recurrence of Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha. How many times have you washed your favorite clothes because you like to wear them so much? Why do you wash them? Because they get dirty and you want them to look clean for everyone to see. Lent is that time to wash our souls so that the light of Christ can shine cleanly through us and that so, when Jesus looks at us, he will see his reflection and know we are his.