Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Preparing for Something Different

   We live in routines. We thrive in them. There are occasions  however, that our routines are altered or put aside. In those moments or seasons, we know that there will be some preparation that is needed. We prepare for guests. We prepare for events. We prepare for tests or examinations. Preparation is the precursor to important or special diversions away from our routine.
   We don't know the routine that Jesus had in the years before he answered the call to ministry. We do know, though, that he spent time preparing for the changes that were ahead. This is best captured in the story of the forty Days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Mark's Gospel, known for its economy of words, describes it like this:
"And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts;
and the angels waited on him."
Mark 1:12-13
When the church chose forty days to be the length of the Season of Lent, this was one of the places it looked for support. Like those forty days Jesus spent preparing, the church intends that Season of Lent help prepare us for what is to come.
   The prominent place given to the ministry of preparation is not limited to stories about what Jesus did, though. Jesus is often instructed his followers to also be those who prepare. In Matthew 25 he tells a story about 10 bridesmaids who are expecting, at any moment, the bridegroom to arrive. The wedding, literally a party, would begin in that moment. They needed to be ready. But five of them were not. He ends with the admonition, "Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Jesus, in other stories like the one in Luke 12, suggests that God comes like one who arrives and knocks in search of those who are prepared. He says, "be like those who are waiting for their master to return...so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks."
   That first Easter was the most significant moment in history. We celebrate it each year and anticipate new blessings and new insights from its return. I, personally, cling to the promise of hope that Easter offers. I need to know that Jesus conquered death. I need to hear a good word that these mortal bodies are not all we have. Such a moment of celebration is indeed a change of routine. It is something for which I must prepare.
   I pray you will join me in preparing. Whether it be through the imposition of ashes this week, worship each Sunday, studying the scriptures, or fasting and denying yourself something during Lent - start preparing for Easter. 
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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