During the heart of winter as temperatures drop and the winds blow cold, I begin to contemplate the return of spring. My activities include preparing my fishing gear, purveying garden catalogs and planning for Lent. Thus far I have inventoried my tackle box and placed new lines on each of my reels. The garden has been surveyed and mentally planted. All that is required is longer days and warmer temperature. So what is left is to plan for Lent and Easter. I’m not sure why I am ready for events that won’t occur for two more months, but can’t seem to get organized for something which is fast approaching.
As the other “High Holy Days” the Lenten season takes a backseat to Christmas (Advent). Though still overly commercialized with bunny rabbits, spring fashions and chocolate eggs, the spring celebration of Christ’s resurrection is often lost in the activities of that come with spring; fishing, gardening, golfing and other outdoor events.
Lent and Easter lies at the heart of our Christian faith. Those events define who we are as Christians and gives us a roadmap for Christian living and mission. Each day should add to our relationship with Christ and every Sunday is an opportunity to both give thanks to God and to receive a deeper fulfillment that leads to transformation. Still there seems to be a sense of urgency during the Lenten season, as though we have a limited time to encapsulate the mission of Christ. Somehow the profound meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection needs to be expressed and deeply felt during those 40 days.
Many of our “snowbird” members are beginning to return from their winter retreats and I feel I need to bring them up to speed on the sermons they missed. And after Easter Sunday many others will be involved in spring activities; the kid’s ballgames, golf tournaments, spring cleaning, farm work etc. There will only be few weeks left for Sunday School and Youth groups as the kids and their parents are lured away by the open free days of summer.
It’s not that I’m afraid we will lose them to hedonistic lifestyle or they will resort to paganism. I know that many will continue to attend church during these “ordinary times”. There will still be many helping out with the VBS and the food stand at the Webster County Fair. In addition we have the “Gospel Celebration” which we hope will grow in its second year.
I’m not sure what practical good fishing or gardening does. Still there is something spiritual about the tug of a fish on my line, or the warm freshly tilled earth slipping through my fingers. Perhaps the joy of a baseball game isn’t in the score but in watching young people compete on warm summer’s evening. And golf scores do not matter as much as the friendship of people who share a common affliction. Thus it isn’t how much time we spend doing something, but how our lives are spiritually enriched during the time we spend doing them. Maybe the point of Lent is to prepare ourselves to live spiritually, to open our lives to the things that allow us to feel God’s love. Perhaps God freed us from death so we may experienced the spiritual gifts that surrounds us.
As the seasons change and our live flow from place to place and time to time we need to know that wherever we find ourselves God is with us. And that each day, whether in the workplace, the garden, the shores of a pond or the ninth hole, is a chance to live in the spirit. Those days are fleeting and pass too quickly. We need to shed earthly worries and allow time for the Holy Spirit to be in our lives.
Just as there are a limited number of days for fishing or planting, golfing or baseball, summer picnics and family get together, it seems there is a limited time to teach, to learn and to understand during these 40 days of Lent. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”. Perhaps those times and seasons should be lived with an awareness of God’s presence.