Being Stewards of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter

Being Stewards of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter

 

            Several times in the Gospels Jesus refers to his disciples as “you of little faith”. Those words are found in the writings of Matthew, Mark, and Luke most frequently in healing accounts, on occasions when Jesus was encouraging his followers to put aside anxiety or worry, and during teaching moments.  Weak faith, however, is not just an early church malady.  Sometimes we, too, lament our lack of faith to deal with the challenges and tragedies and surprises of life.  In fact, just a year ago our pastors, associates in ministry, and synodically authorized ministers identified ‘thin’ spirituality, a contributor to weak faith, as one of three problems confronting disciples in our congregations.

            I call this fact to your attention because we presently find ourselves in church seasons that can most certainly deepen our spirituality and grow our faith.  Lent, Holy Week, and Easter comprise over 26% of our 365 day year and I am guessing most of us observe these three church year seasons as distinct from one another rather than complementing one another. 

Lent is somber, more introspective with a focus on confession and repentance, marked by simplicity in worship, by plain and veiled crosses, and by the liturgical color of purple calling us to return to the Lord that we might be transformed by God’s gracious love received in Jesus.  Holy Week is filled with drama and suffering, with liturgical appointments stark and minimal, and the colors scarlet and black reminding us of Christ’s sacrificial death.  Meanwhile Easter Eve and Day arrive and the hymns resound with joy.  Flowers abound.  The alleluias announce Jesus is risen. Gold and white colors proclaim new life.

            Yet the whole of the Paschal story is not found in just one season or the other.  It is most wonderfully proclaimed and experienced in all three seasons.    I believe those days through Lent and Easter represent a unified journey; three seasons and one observance!  The story of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter is one story or it is no story at all.  The promises we celebrate in Easter (and all year long for that matter) have their roots in the suffering and death … and resurrection of Jesus and we are as the apostle contends, stewards of this mystery.  There can be no empty tomb to discover, in other words, if a body wrapped in linen clothes was not first laid in that tomb.  There can be no resurrection if there is no death.  There can be no salvation of the many, if there is no crucifixion of the one Son of God.  There can be no joy, if there is no sorrow.  There can be no new life for us, if there is no death of our old selves. 

            Easter, my partner disciples, has no power without our personal admission of human weakness that Lent and Holy Week helps us do so well.  Of course, Lent and Holy Week are hollow without the announcement on Easter that Jesus is risen.

            My prayer, then, is that you engage in the whole of the Lent, Holy Week, and Easter journey within the life of your parish.  Your pastor/s, associate in ministry, synodically authorized leader has been called to feed you with God’s Word well throughout the many days of this journey.  Participate in those opportunities!  I believe it is our calling to be stewards not just of bits and pieces of the journey, but to be stewards of the WHOLE journey.  Therein our faith is strengthened, our knowledge of God’s love for us enhanced, and our spiritual persons deepened.

            May Almighty God bless you as you walk with Jesus, talk with Jesus, and deepen your faith in Jesus in these profound days of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

                                                                                    +Bishop Gregory R. Pile