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March 2017

We are coming to Lent and the earth is turning toward spring.  It seems the two run at cross purposes.  Lent takes us into the pain of the cross and the darkness of the tomb.  The shifting season carries us away from the darkness of winter toward the light of the equinox, the return of the sun.  We wouldn’t have to take that journey into the dark story of betrayal and death of the Crucifixion.  So why do it?  There’s enough pain and suffering in the world around us.  Why not just look with happy longing toward the return of spring rains, green growth, called into life by a sun that truly warms instead of coming late to the morning and slipping too soon into night?It’s an ancient tradition, this celebration of death and resurrection at the time of the spring equinox, whose roots are found in the ruins of Egypt, Greece, and the East.  The difference for us is that Jesus, a human, not a mythic figure like Osiris or Dionysus, chose the path to the cross taking on willingly the oppression of Rome and the Hebrew Sanhedrin, the embodiments of human greed, violence, and arrogance.  As the Apostle Paul writes, in Christ we are baptized into the death of the cross so that we may share in His Resurrection. This works for me.  In my long life, I have accumulated my share of pain and suffering and have managed to share it with those that have had the misfortune of traveling that road with me.  I would like to forget, wipe if off the board of my memory with a freshly cleaned eraser.  But try as I might the dusty traces remain.  The past is never gone.  It resides in our bones and sinew, in the twisted connections to our loved ones and the world around us.  The only true escape comes not in running from the shadows, but in allowing the light of God’s all forgiving and resurrecting love to shine into the darkness of our lives and world.  In this light, I find my life transformed.  The past informs my decisions instead of shrouding my mind with shame and I find forgiveness rather than condemnation.  The board is not wiped clean; it is made clean.            So I invite you to share in the drama of Lent leading to Easter that we celebrate in each Sunday service, in the darkening of Maundy Thursday, and the Easter services.  It is an ancient tradition because it speaks to a deep primordial longing.