I freely admit that one of the great struggles of my life is to choose and stick with a Lenten discipline. I firmly believe that the purpose of the tradition of giving something up for Lent is to enable us to take something on. For example, if we give up chocolate then the time and energy we would have spent eating chocolate can be used for prayer.
During the Ash Wednesday service I decided that I would meditate on certain verses of scripture for Lent. I even announced this during the sermon that evening. It is 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10, that I’ve chosen to meditate on. I know that we have a sermon series focused on stewardship this Lent but I was still surprised that these verses from Paul seemed to speak to stewardship too.
From time to time communities of faith must show endurance because we suffer affliction and hardship that keeps us up at night. It is by remaining faithful in our relationship with God, by showing love, patience and truth that we will see our way through our current circumstances. Paul says that we are treated as if we have nothing, yet we possess everything. Everything we need to do the will of God in the world, we have. We can be sorrowful when God’s love doesn’t seem like enough (I can’t believe I just typed those words), or we can choose to be always rejoicing.
The word "excruciating" is derived from the Latin word for "cross." We can choose to wallow in the view that we are poor (in terms of money, liturgy and love), or we can claim a belief in the resurrection. Easter morning we will gather in celebration to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What is sometimes lost on us amidst the joy of Easter morning is that we will also BE the resurrection. St. Paul’s Church IS the resurrection.
As a people of faith, as a people who proclaim the resurrection, and all that it means, we also trust in a God who is present with us, upon whom we can (we must) rely. For us to wait for Easter morning can hardly be considered "excruciating." Christ rises again and again in our hearts, minds, bodies and souls transforming us to be his body.