Welcome to our Saint Francis Community Services Web Site. We are now in Lent, that period of time Christians spend each year preparing for Easter. I personally find this to be a genuinely helpful annual experience, which holds great potential for spiritual growth for all who participate in it.
Of all our celebrations, Easter is the most significant. It marks that moment in history when God said to us, through the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord, that nothing—not even death—can overcome the power of God’s goodness and love. The life-giving message of Easter is far too important to who we are to allow it to get lost in the inevitable busyness of our lives. For that reason, for centuries, Church members have devoted the forty days just prior to Easter Day to focusing on what God has done for us by coming among us in Jesus. There is no way we can begin to touch the surface of the importance of Jesus in our lives—not even if we were to spend all the days of our youth and adulthood contemplating it, and certainly not from our limited yearly Lenten experiences—but there is no question that we have the opportunity each year to understand a little more of the wonder of it. We are dealing with something so important that just the smallest new perception can make an enormous difference in the way we go about our lives.
We can begin our contemplation with the Christmas story we fairly recently celebrated. Christmas is such an appropriately happy time that it is easy to miss what a strong statement God was making to the world by being born to very humble, although obviously faithful and good, parents. And who would ever expect God to choose a stable for a birthplace, or to send the herald angels to the lowly shepherds? So that we won’t think God cares only for the poor and lowly, however, there is the visit of the Magi, sometimes known as the Three Kings, who brought expensive gifts that were fit for royalty of any kind; so that we won’t think God is only God of the Jewish people, those royal visitors from afar who were guided by God to worship the baby were Gentiles.
If God had sent the angel Gabriel to you to ask you to be the “event planner” for the birth of Jesus, what kind of arrangements do you think you would have made and why? How does the reality of what happened differ from that which you would have expected, and why do you think God made the choices that ended up with things happening as they did? We can ask ourselves what those messages sent by God have to do with us. Do those messages suggest anything to us that might cause us to want to make changes in the way we go about our daily lives?
The Gospel Lessons for the Epiphany Sundays between Christmas and Lent have reminded us about the teachings of Jesus, and also about his healing gifts to God’s people. On the Sunday before Lent began, we heard of Jesus’ transfiguration, and we had to realize that truly seeking to follow Jesus brings about a transfiguration in ourselves as well. Are we resisting that transfiguration in our lives because we are too comfortable, too frightened, too untrusting…? What can we do this Lent to open ourselves more to God’s chipping away at that resistance within us? What if we just got up the courage to ask God to help us be more open to receiving the molding of the Holy Spirit?
The Gospel Lessons as we go through Lent bring us face to face with the intensity of God’s love for us—love that left a means for us to continually unite with God through Jesus, love that was willing to suffer and die for us, love that would not allow sin and death to snatch us away from our rightful identities as God’s sons and daughters. Such love makes the events of our lives, our relationships, our cares, our sorrows, our serenity, and our joy of true importance. Such love calls us to reach out to others in Christ’s name. It is far too overwhelming to attempt to keep for ourselves. What this means in our lives is both different from what it means in someone else’s life and also from what it has meant in our life in the past or will mean in the future. Each Lent finds us in a new place on our life-journey.
May God bless you in your Lenten experience this year. I pray it will bring you to Easter with new insights of the depths of the Light of Christ in your life.