Thus far, our Lenten journey has taken us about half-way from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday morning.
Parts of our journey have been rich and enjoyable experiences. Our hearts have been warmed in the fellowship of worship. Emotions have been stirred as we confess our sins and experience God’s forgiveness.
We have been inspired with powerful and meaningful preaching. Our souls have been uplifted by thoughtful devotional readings and classes built upon the Word of God.
But a portion of this early journey has been difficult. It is the series on Wednesday evenings about “Stumbling Along the Lenten Path: Crisis and Change.” This series deals with some of the most difficult experiences in life. Included are divorce, mandatory career change, severe illness, and death in the family.
Why are subjects like these within the context of a journey that seeks to affirm the positive and minimize the negative?
Because those who first walked the Lenten path not only found that which was beautiful and meaningful, but also experienced that which was puzzling, disconcerting, and yes, even ugly.
Perhaps the scene of the Last Supper is the centerpiece of that which is full of meaning and beauty. Likewise, the Garden of Gethsemene was a natural place to go for prayer for it flourished with the beauty of plants and flowers.
But some parts of the scene of the Last Supper had its puzzling moments. Jesus’ announcement regarding his impending death went over the head of the disciples as if they did not hear Him. While the Son of God talked of brokenness and death, the disciples wanted to talk about who was the greatest disciple.
While Jesus poured out his heart in agonizing prayer, the disciples were apparently unaware of the depth of his agony. They fell asleep not once, not twice, but three times.
And then, there was the disconcerting. Jesus predicted that one of the disciples would betray Him. The disciples began to try to find out who the culprit was by asking Jesus, “Lord, who will do this?” Again, at the Last Supper, the discussion about who was the greatest disciple turned into a verbal pushing and shoving match as each seemed to jockey for position as the greatest.
In the Garden, when Judas brought the soldiers to take Jesus, the ugly came to the forefront. Simon Peter attempted to fight the solders with a sword. Jesus put a stop to the violence immediately.
The disciples fled when the soldiers seized Jesus. The religious courts were a sham. Peter blatantly denied that he ever knew the Christ. Pilate caved to the masses. Jesus was horribly killed.
The Lenten path is like most other paths. Beauty usually abounds. And yes, difficulties frequently cause us to stumble.
But thanks be to God, we do not journey alone.