This month (March 23) marks the fourth anniversary of my grandson’s going home to be with Jesus. (For those of you unfamiliar with Zekey’s story I would encourage you to read my son’s blog (thesometimespreacher.com) and my daughter-in-law’s blog (breeloverly.com). Zekey passed into the arms of Jesus at four years old, after suffering a rare neurological disorder called Batten’s). Because of its proximity to Good Friday and Easter I associate his death with both Lent and Holy Week. In my last post I wrote of Zekey receiving the ashes of Ash Wednesday. And his journey continued from there until he passed into the arms of Jesus almost a month before Easter that year. I am reminded that with my memories of Zekey, just as in the memorial of Good Friday there is the paradox of conflicting emotions. We are relieved because Zekey no long suffers but we miss him with the longing for that reunion that will only come in heaven.
I believe we can honor Christ’s sacrifice by being both saddened (sobered) that the world had come to this place in our brokenness and sadness and sin that God’s only son had to die and joyful (grateful) that in his death is glory. The glory of the cross. I wonder if Satan rejoiced at Christ’s death or did he already know that in Christ’s dying the world was made new again – that Redemption was purchased through the blood of Christ? Christ experienced both the humiliation of death by crucifixion and its glory because it was through that death that He once and for all could demonstrate his unfailing, his eternal, his lasting love for us, sinners that we are.
How can we turn our backs on that love – either in our presumption to believe we are no longer sinners, or in our despair to believe that nothing can take away our sin? Our task both during Lent and throughout our Christian lives is to live in that space between sin and glory, death and eternal life.
Alexander Schmemann called Lent the season of Bright Sadness. And he did so, in the knowledge that we as Christians are called to walk the journey (passover) to Resurrection.
“For each year Lent and Easter are, once again, the rediscovery and the recovery by us of what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection”.
It strikes me that Christian maturity has a lot to do with our capacity to live in tension – to know we are sinners and at the same time saints; that we are called to die daily (to our sin) and to live daily (to the hope we have in Christ!) And such is Christian gratitude, which is so much more than the world offers. With Zekey, we could hate the “unmaking” of disease, but be eternally grateful for the redemption of Easter, of Resurrection. Because of Christ – #zekeylives.
One practice of gratitude that I find so helpful is the naming of the sin that binds me, and moving through that confession (to God and others) to receiving God’s grace, His unwavering love, and His unmitigated forgiveness of that sin. I do not need to be grateful for the hard circumstances of my life, or my sin, or the world’s sin… but I can be grateful that God, through His Son redeems what Satan intended for evil. How about you? What part of your story have you seen God redeem? And how does this journey to Easter reflect it?