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Posts Tagged ‘#lent’

He wept.

Jesus wept.

That’s what I’ve been reading, each day of this season of Lent, as I read from the death of Lazarus to the prayers of Jesus, before his arrest.

As I read and reread the account of the death of Lazarus I have more insights and more questions.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

John 11:32-37

Each day I am left with the question,

why did Jesus weep?

did he weep because Lazarus was dead?

  • that doesn’t make sense, because Jesus knew that he would soon raise Lazarus from the grave.

did he weep because he loved Lazarus?

  • he did love Lazarus, but … death would not defeat Lazarus, and Jesus knew that his temporary ‘sleep’ would soon come to an end.

did he weep because he saw Mary (the sister of Lazarus) crying?

  • the passage does say that “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” when he saw Mary weeping, but it is not until they take him to Lazarus that his tears begin to fall.

Though those rationales have some hint of truth in their possibilities, I wonder if maybe the tears of Jesus had more to do with his own fate, in the days that were to come. I wonder if it might have been that Jesus was beginning to face his own ‘sleep’.

As Jesus walked through the events leading to his rising of Lazarus, we read that the death of Lazarus (v. 4) “is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” How could the death of Lazarus be for God’s glory?

Had Jesus prevented the death of Lazarus, that would have been great … but probably not miraculous. It would not have cinched it for Jesus as Messiah … for who could raise the dead to life again? By waiting for Lazarus to die, by healing him when there would have been so many around was to, in essence, crown Jesus king of the Jews. Thus, opening him up to his arrest and all that followed.

Back to the verse (v. 4) “it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Has Jesus (God’s Son) been glorified through his healing of Lazarus?

Well … yes. But what exactly does glorified mean? and what does it mean in this specific context?

Glorified means that someone or something typical is viewed or treated or honored as something more … something or someone special (I hear the Dana Carvey character of the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live saying special). This is not the biblical meaning of glorified.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31-32, we are instructed, “whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. Do not become a stumbling block …” In this we understand that we, as the followers of God, reflect his glory, so we have a responsibility to reflect accurately. God’s glory is who he is, his perfect character. For his glory to be glorified through his son, means that his perfect character and love are reflected through the sacrificial death of his son, for the sake and souls of all people.

In other words,

we could not know of the glory of God’s love for us, except through the death of Christ.

Jesus modelled, for us the sacrificial aspect of reflecting God’s glory … it is not always doing what is easy, what is natural … often it is doing that which might bring us to tears, but the God who he allows us to reflect is eternally glorified.

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Lent, from a Latin word, meaning forty, can imitate Jesus forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert, as some celebrate lenten practise six days a week (not on Sundays) up to Thursday night celebration of the last supper (Maundy Thursday) and others do so every day straight through to Easter Sunday.

There is nothing magical or mandatory about the practise of Lent. It is, quite simply, an opportunity to prepare, focus and share in sacrifice as we await the season of Easter.

I practised lent a number of years ago, giving up cream in my coffee. It was such a little thing, but I missed it so much. Because morning coffee is how my day begins, I missed it … and, in missing something so regular, I was reminded daily of the (so much greater) sacrifice of Christ, for me.

This year I felt a tug to celebrate the lenten season again. This time, though, I did not feel compelled to give up, but take in.

A wise man, James R Dennis recently wrote, of lent,

“If all we do during Lent is give up chocolate, that’s not a Lenten discipline, that’s a diet. And that’s fine, but that’s not the life we’re called into. We are called during that Holy Season to abandon anything that gets between us and God, to lay down our burdens and begin again.” James R Dennis

ahhh … to begin again!

If giving up chocolate (or any other thing) is done so as a sacrifice that will bring us closer to God, that will remind us of his sacrifice, then do it. Let me tell you, I had no idea how important cream in my coffee was to me, until I gave it up for Lent. But I wanted something out of the lenten season that would not just remind me of his sacrifice, but also fill me with his life.

So, my lenten practise will be reading from the book of John, from the death of Lazarus, in chapter 11, to the prayers of Jesus (before his arrest), in chapter 17. I will read this passage every day, from my Bible, not a screen version. During the week preceding Easter weekend, I will then read John 18-20, from his arrest to the empty tomb. In addition to this, I have committed to speak what is called the Jesus Prayer or The Prayer (in the image) daily, to remind me that the mercy I have received has come, at great cost, from Christ.

How about you? I’d love to know if and how you include lenten practise in this season.

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Whether it is a vacation, a weekend or a snow day, we all need (physically, mentally and spiritually) periodic breaks from the everyday of life.

At some point in my life I remember a slogan, whose origins I do not remember (and could not find in my web search):

a break from the everyday

I love my life, my job, the routines and rhythms of my days … that is what gets me up and keeps the hamster on the wheel.

But …

it is the times of break from the everyday routines that are the fuel for the everyday.

I experience, what I like to call my undiagnosed ADHD, as soon as a break begins. It is a struggle to sleep (though exhausted) and a struggle to sit still. I am like a child at Christmas … not wanting to waste a precious second of this gift of time (usually refinishing a new ‘treasure’). Eventually sleep does come and a book or puzzle does get pulled out … and I breath.

The season of Lent is a similar break. Perhaps the break is from a habit or pleasure, perhaps it is the addition of prayer, or fasting, or both.

Lent culminates in the remembering of Christ’s final week … the entrance to Jerusalem, the final supper, betrayal, night in Gethsemane, arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion, death, and rising again.

It is his rising again that gives us breath, that makes our everyday hope-filled. It is in his rising that gives us a break from the emptiness of routine without hope of renewal … renewal that lasts an eternity.

Sabbath Poem V,
Wendell Berry

Six days of work are spent To make a Sunday quiet
That Sabbath may return.
It comes in unconcern;
We cannot earn or buy it. Suppose rest is not sent
Or comes and goes unknown, The light, unseen, unshown. Suppose the day begins

In wrath at circumstance,
Or anger at one’s friends
In vain self-innocence
False to the very light, Breaking the sun in half,
Or anger at oneself
Whose controverting will Would have the sun stand still. The world is lost in loss

Of patience; the old curse Returns, and is made worse As newly justified.
In hopeless fret and fuss, In rage at worldly plight Creation is defied,

All order is unpropped,
All light and singing stopped.

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