Archive for the ‘Lent/Easter’ Category

Christ and Death in the Wilderness

Death.

I’ve been thinking about death this Holy Week.

The Great Separation. The Dread. The Fear.

 Sinai. Imagine.

Sinai. Imagine.

And I have been reading about the Israelites and the end of their 18-month journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They are on the border at a place called Kadesh. God says trust Me and go. They say um we’d like to check it out first.

Big mistake.

They decide the large occupiers are bigger than God. They panic. They resist.

What should have been a “short, swift, decisive march,” as one scholar puts it, turns into a 38 year nightmare. It is often called “Wandering in the Wilderness”. Let’s call it “Waiting Around to Die”. Here are some details:

  • The history of Israel is suspended.
  • There is no evidence that the tribes held together during those terrible years, but probably scattered far and wide across the Sinai Peninsula.
  • The rite of circumcision (that mark of the covenant and foreshadowing of baptism) and the observance of Passover very likely fall into disuse.
  • Disease and death revive full force.
  • Idolatry is practiced; there are hints of child sacrifice.
  • There is no purpose except waste of time.
  • There is no end but death.

Doubt and vicious complaining give way to active disobedience one time too many. Death is the new reality.

I’ve been pondering this.

God’s eye remained on the people He loved even as they wasted away in the devastating consequences of their own choices. He provided food, water, and clothing. He provided pasturelands for their flocks.

One day He would provide a Savior, a final sacrifice for our sin, a vanquisher of Death.

 No fear.

No fear.

I’ve been reading:

  •  Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. He died to sin once for all. (Romans 6:9,10)

and:

  • He releases those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:15; there is something very moving about this verse.)

and:

  • I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of the Unseen Realm and of Death. (Revelation 1:18)

Jesus Christ through His own violent death, once for all of us, removed the bondage, the prison, the sting, the fear, the dread of it.

And now no wilderness can take that away.

Shear Necessity

What I finally learned about pruning roses. (They need not dread my approach anymore.)

First:

  • God is a gardener.  You’re reading through Genesis Chapter 2, and there it is: The Lord God planted a garden. One assumes that, since He planted it, He tended it. Tending means pruning. Pruning means you better know what you’re doing.

Which brings to mind a Environmental Horticulture class I took fresh out of high school at the local junior college. The instructor was a energetic fella with a great deal of enthusiasm for his subject. One afternoon he took us for a walk around campus for a pruning clinic, reducing those defenseless bushes to an array of sticks in nothing flat.

 Rose, well, sticks.

Pitiful, but full of potential.

Appalled as I was, I did learn a few things. Although, apparently, too few.

So, I recently asked a friend, a rosebush-pruning-pro, to visit my one rose bush (a long-suffering specimen), and those of my daughters-in-law: 17 lucky  plants in all.

Yvonne patiently taught me:

  • Cut off the dead stuff first. Those knobby pieces of wood will hang around year after year if you let them.
  • Aim for a nice “bowl” shape. This was news to me. I’ve left many shapes behind on rose bushes. Just not bowl ones.
  • Remove much of the interior growth. Branches should ideally be growing out. How did I not know this? I ask, mystified.
  • Anything ugly has to go. Bam. Gone.

Maybe Adam walked around the garden with the Lord God while He pruned. Had he kept his mind on interesting things like the ones I just listed, he wouldn’t have been hanging around that tree.

So he got pruned.

 Yes, He did.

Yes, He did.

I mention this because it is Lent and Easter approaches which is the story of God, so merciful, so full of love, making a way for man to bloom again.

I love that thought. Now that I’m better informed.

Suffering from “dead stuff?” Do you have an “airy” interior? Do you trust that God has a sure hand with the shears?

Traveling Light for Lent

I had what is now frequently – and I think quaintly – described as a “fundamentalist” upbringing. We were pretty fundamental in our views about a host of things, including the rituals of mainline denominations.

Some years ago I became curious about the feasts and fasts of the religious calendar year. I had conversations with friends whose churches faithfully marked and celebrated those days. From them I learned that these were not rituals at all. They were signposts throughout the year that urged: “Remember the Lord here.”

And they do.

Truth.

Truth.

I decided to observe the 40 days of Lent. That first year I gave up dessert.

Before you chuckle and try to pat me on the head, may I say that Lenten resolutions are acts that either:

  • the doing of, or,
  • the refraining from

serve to remind us of the Lord’s sacrifice.

Believe me, with my sweet tooth, I thought about the Lord a lot during that first Lenten season.

This year I was thinking, thinking, how shall I observe Lent?

Then I had a conversation with a friend about stuff. Boxes of stuff that needed going through. Accumulation. Excess.

This is a rather painful subject for me. Several years ago, after the sudden death of my father, my siblings and I had to liquidate the aggregation of 57 years of marriage in the space of 2 weeks. Trying to navigate through those physical reminders of their lives and make those hundreds of decisions while deep in grief was, and I do not overstate this, a nightmare.

I have often thought since those terrible days: What if I get hit by the proverbial truck tomorrow? Would I want my husband and children to be faced with the garage? Or my cupboards or drawers or boxes?

No.

I decided that I would begin decumulating. This is a word I made up, but it states perfectly my point.

 Truth.

More truth.

Since I have not been decumulating rapidly enough, I decided to make it my Lenten resolution. Each week during Lent (this year February 13 – March 30) I will:

  • throw away
  • give away
  • or list on Craigslist or eBay

one or more stored items.

Or:

I will go through one box in my garage.

And as I do, I will remember that Jesus, my Great Example, traveled light. He calls me to take up my cross of discipleship and follow Him. That can be difficult tethered to large quantities of the Things of Life.

My stuff is my responsibility. So, self, deal with it.

And remember the Lord as you do.

Have you made a resolution for Lent? If so, would you be willing to share it here? Click “Leave a Comment” above.

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