Lenten Presence

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Uncategorized

Here’s a pastoral confession: I don’t like Lent. There, I said it.

The solemnity of the season, its length, its darkness, and the penitential themes are, well, just so, to be honest, so depressing. I know Christianity’s most paradoxical symbol is the Cross. We journey every Lenten Season with Jesus to that wooden form representing both death and hope. Yet, hope seems to be far off, so far off that maybe it isn’t achievable.

Yesterday marks three weeks since we began this somber spiritual season on Ash Wednesday. In our fast-paced culture, I admit I am tired of the dreariness and am ready to celebrate the Easter resurrection—now! Enough of this gloom. But we are only in the middle of this 40-day journey.

The doldrums of winter, plus this week’s gray skies and downpours, and then add to that the discovery of severed body parts scattered in our local parks and open fields, doesn’t help offset the sadness permeating our bones. And if you look at the church’s calendar for today, you may want to ask your physician to prescribe you Lexiprol. Today, March 7, Christianity commemorates Perpetua and Felicity and their companions.

In the church’s earlier history, the Lenten Season was devoted to catechumens, believers wishing to become Christians, instructed in the faith before baptism. The baptisms were typically held on the Easter Vigil, the evening before the Celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord. Perpetua, Felicity, and others were catechumens in Carthage in the Year 202.

Perpetua, a wealthy, well-educated 22-year-old married woman who was nursing an infant son, her slave assistant Felicity, who was pregnant, and several others were arrested and consequently assassinated as part of military war games to celebrate Roman Emperor Septimius Seerus’s birthday. Perpetua and the others refused to recant their faithfulness toward Christ and became martyrs.

So there you have it. Lent: death, darkness, and despair. It’s not my favorite time of the year.

Now what? How do we – how do I – get through the rest of this Lenten journey? I know the 40 days are supposed to reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. Let us remember that Jesus was not alone during his time of temptation with Satan and the wild beasts. The Evangelist Mark tells us that angels waited on him. The angels were present.

How often, during the darkest moments of our lives, such as critical illnesses, financial despair, or profound grief over the loss of a loved one, have we looked back and remembered who was there? You may not recall what that person did or said, but the presence was the gift. Being present is the light that shines through the darkness.

If you are enduring the fatigue of Lent, or more so the fatigue of life, let us be present for you. Better yet, be present for someone else. Let that be your Lenten sacrifice. Let’s be present together this Sunday, March 10, at 9:30 AM for worship. Join us at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 36 East John Street, Lindenhurst.

Pastor Marc