I’m writing this blog about EASTER during the season of LENT. As I write, it’s not even Holy Week yet. So, why am I doing this? Why on earth would I fast-forward past the Season to the Day?
Well, essentially I’m not fast-forwarding past the Season – at least, not as a liturgical practitioner. I preach two-to-three sermons every week. I preach every Sunday morning, every Thursday (a virtual sermon), and every other Wednesday night. All of those messages throughout this season are about the deep themes of the Lent. You can check me on that by going on line and listening to Sunday sermons, WeWo sermons, or “The Bible for Today” virtual sermons. But, blogs are... well... blogs. And that means they are something of a different format. Yes, I usually try to write my blogs in sermonic fashion. Even so, the DNA of a blog is still a bit different from that of a sermon. I often tell people that if they want to know me and what I personally think about things, read my blogs. Neither Michael Brown nor any other preacher is the centerpiece of a sermon. Sermons are about God and what Jesus says and the Bible says and the Faith says. But in blogs, the parameters change somewhat, and authors are freed to be a bit more self-revelatory.
That’s why I am writing an Easter-themed blog in the season of Lent. Personally, I am an Easter Christian. Theologically, I think all of us are. A minister friend of mine said to my wife and me over dinner a few Fridays ago: “I am less Lenten than most clergy. The journey to the Cross, for all its importance, can never make me forget the journey following the Empty Tomb.” I think he’s right. As I said to a staff member at another church many years ago (who could not understand why I was not sufficiently morose during Lent): “We live on the other side of Easter. We know what they did not – that Jesus won!”
Now, do not misinterpret. I am not diminishing the essential wisdom of Lent and its importance to us. Most of us live Good Friday sorts of lives. We deal with broken relationships and economic challenges, with abuse and ensuing distrust, with professional and relational disappointments, with as many failures as successes, with illness, with grief, with guilt, and with a sizeable amount of fear every time we read the morning paper or watch the evening news. We do not live in Shangri La. Life is not perfect or painless. We bear crosses and know how difficult that can be. And therefore it is important to read the Lenten Story and realize that even Jesus walked those same paths. In fact, the pains He faced were more intense than our own. There was no magic wand to wave to make His pains go away, just as there is none for ours. So, the Lenten Story informs us via His witness of how to deal with the inevitability of suffering and struggling in life.
Additionally, when we reflect seriously enough on the Lenten Story we realize that it is, in fact, a Passion Narrative. He did not suffer for suffering’s sake, but instead used His challenges for the benefits of others. A friend said to me recently: “In my physical disability, God has taught me how to be an advocate for others with similar challenges.” She lives in such fashion as to demonstrate to others that they can be what she is – not disabled, but simply “differently abled.” That is a powerful Lenten witness.
So, in myriad ways I would never ignore the message of Lent nor seek to jump past it to a nice spring day of bunnies and bonnets. But, by the same token, I cannot and would not forget the Easter Good News that, “He is not here, for He is risen.” Jesus won! No matter what the world threw at Him, Jesus won. I need to remember that when I read of ISIS or cancer or prejudice or abuses or poverty or anger or greed. Jesus won. His victory was for all time. So, Jesus wins over all those things that seem to oppose Him and His ways of Truth. And when I oppose all those things in whatever way(s) I can, then I have sided with Victory.
That’s what it means to me to be an Easter Christian. Fear does not have the final word in my life. Jesus already wrote the final word. It is “RESURRECTION.” And thus, I agree with my friend who said that as important as the Lenten journey is, far more important is that we know the journey that occurred (and continues to occur) because of the Empty Tomb. Jesus won. And thus, so can we.