Blue spring flowers on the Cathedral grounds

Today’s Gospel: John 8:31–42

“The Hard Way”

Welcome to the 36th day of Lent 2018! Some liturgical experts say that the five Sundays in Lent should not be counted among the forty-days. But I like keeping things simple; so, for me, Lent 2018 has 46-days, including the five Sundays, Palm Sunday and Holy Week. That’s why I claim this day as the 36th.

I don’t know about you, but I have found, in my liturgical life, that Lent is never a cake walk. Momentous things tend to happen in Lent. Almost as surely as “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” Lent can present its unanticipated sorrows. Perfect example: Lent 2016 was almost my Waterloo. Not only was I balancing archdiaconal duties in the Diocese of Maryland; Rector of a vibrant and demanding parish; and candidate for Armed Forces Bishop; but also—just to make things interesting—I endured a nightmarish struggle with kidney stones. My sufferings directly coincided with Lent, which was basically the month of March that year. Like Job of old I had no lack of loved ones who tried to comfort me, usually giving bad advice; e.g. “drink more cranberry juice;” “stop eating nuts;” “this is the closest a man will ever come to experiencing the pain of childbirth;” etc…Obviously, the friends were well-intentioned; but all I could do was suffer excruciating pain. My only physical relief was some sort of opioid, which I quickly dubbed “my happy pills!” Then, as the Lord would have it, in Holy Week, my kidney stones were successfully removed. Or, as I cleverly reported to my parishioners, “the stones were rolled away!” They actually turn-out to have been an extraordinary blessing—those Lenten kidney stones!

Followers of Christ should understand, from the beginning, that the Lenten journey, like life itself, is never easy. Sometimes it’s physical illness; oftentimes it’s spiritual illness. But, if we use the 40-plus days truly to reflect and reconcile, we should not be surprised at the results. Things once hidden may come to light; things suppressed may bubble-up. We will be healed. This is what happens when we seriously put ourselves in God’s hands. As the Bible says, “God, Who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).” Good News. By my count, we’re coming down the home stretch: we have 11 more days [or, more precisely, the rest of this earthly life] to surrender to God, so that we may experience afresh the joy of His Resurrection on 1 April. May God continue to bless you on your journey.

O Heavenly Father, in whose hands are the hearts of all your children: Grant us the faith that commits all to thee, without question and without reserve; that trusting ourselves wholly to your love and wisdom, we may meet all that life may bring, and death itself at last, with serenity and courage; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (written by Frank Colquhoun)