We are in the final weeks of the Lenten season of preparation for Easter, which began on Ash Wednesday. Sometimes we need to “adjust” our relationships with God, our family and friends, and how we treat the world around us. This recognition and adjustment is what the Church means by “repentance.”
It would be difficult to come to the Easter celebration laden with bankrupt relationships and no sense of who we really are before God. The Season of Lent is a time to be intentional about making the adjustments necessary to be in a healthy and holy relationship with God, with our family and neighbors, and with God’s world. Healthy and holy relationships are part of the treasures of heaven that come with Easter. It’s not just a matter of some future after-life. It’s about being a People of the Resurrection in the here and now, with the Kingdom of Heaven and all its treasures breaking into, shaping, and transforming our normal, everyday lives.
Holy Easter relationships are possible only if one is authentic. It is only then that God can fully reside in our hearts and be Emmanuel, God-With-Us. Our journey of authenticity began with the receipt of ashes and those haunting words: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” But it doesn’t end there, nor does our journey end at the Cross of Good Friday. No, our journey is joined, through Baptism, with the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ in whom we are raised from sin into newness of life, made holy and worthy, capable of sanctification and being ever more Christ-like ourselves.
I invite you to be intentional in these final days of Lent. Attend a church on Palm Sunday. Wave blessed palms in celebratory procession and then save them in a place of honor until they are burned on Shrove Tuesday and the ashes used on Ash Wednesday of next year. Come to our 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night Tenebrae– the Service of Shadows, and extinguish the candles, joining the world in a descent into darkness for the final days. Gather for Holy Communion at 7:00 p.m. on Maundy Thursday and let others do for you, symbolized by the washing of feet.
Join us at Noon on Good Friday to carry a roughly hewn 6’ Cross the one mile from Federal Highway back to the church, stopping periodically for the Stations of the Cross. Gather again at 7:00 p.m. for the Good Friday Liturgy and Holy Communion before Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and an all-night prayer vigil. Then experience the Great Vigil of Easter at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, starting outside by the fire pit for the lighting of the new fire. Process by candlelight into a darkened church and see the Light of Christ split the darkness. A festive champagne reception will follow.
Journey with us to Easter.
Come as you are– as one loved by God.
By The Rev. Mark Andrew Jones, BSG
Rector, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church