BY THE REV. CORY L. KEMP |
As I write today we are square in the middle of Lent.
We’ve all been here before, and we know the routine. We walk into the wilderness with Jesus, stand with him in recognizing the temptations that surround us and choose to set aside something that doesn’t serve us in living faithful lives. We use the spiritual practice of letting go of something in order to make space for more God, more grace. In essence, we try on a little more faith by letting it take over the space held by our love of chocolate, social media or old TV programs on Netflix.
Spiritual practices like these are historical and pragmatic in a very modern way. They are historical in that Christians before us have entered Lent with similar intent, a closer union with and greater understanding of God in their own lives.
Spiritual practices like these are very modern and pragmatic in that it’s pretty common to talk about decluttering, freeing up our schedules and being grateful for social engagement or committee meeting cancellations.
A lot of us have a lot of stuff going on in our lives, don’t we? What greater joy could Lent offer than a reason to say no to something that has become too much for us?
The other part of the routine is that we sometimes allow what we have let go of to find its way back into our lives to have its due.
But, not always; not if we keep following Jesus to Jerusalem and are willing to step into the Great Mystery of what happens next.
While Lent is about personal introspection and action, when we follow Jesus to Jerusalem, and stay with him through that week, we are accepting an invitation into the Unknown. What does God have planned? How is all of this going to come together?
God’s plan, we discover, is that all of what we had planned is going to fall apart.
Our Moravian practice, gathering each night of Holy Week to enter this experience as believers, as those who hope for more in this world, is unique, and it is powerful. If we are willing to sing the Hosannas on Palm Sunday morning, if we are willing to see what happens next by showing up for and participating in these readings, we have set aside a particular spiritual practice we have claimed for ourselves to step into God as the Spiritual Practice of transforming community.
You and I are aware of what happened those last days before Jesus was arrested, tried and publicly murdered. We also know that death did not have the final word. But we don’t know what will happen this year, how we may be changed, be made anew, if we accept God’s invitation to show up, remember and keep believing.
And, we aren’t meant to.
Included in the fantasy novel, The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle, is a wonderful observation by one of its main characters, the Prince, who is also the hero. He says, quite modestly, “The true secret of being a hero lies in knowing the order of things.” The Prince doesn’t know what is coming, but he knows to trust each next right step in its order of appearance.
The unfolding drama of Jesus’ return to Jerusalem from his wilderness journey held promise for the coming of the kingdom of God on earth, just as multiple prophets spoke of it.
It still does.
We are included in that unfolding drama when we step out of Lent, out of our personal journeys in the wilderness, into the Palm Sunday crowd in Jerusalem to cheer, to rejoice, to welcome Jesus.
And then, if we stay, we will feel it coming before we see it happening. Everything will fall apart, be completely out of our control. And all we will have left will be Sacred Trust.
We, you and I, can make the same choice each person in Jesus’ life made that day: stay with the crowd and break away to individual safety, back to the wilderness; or stand with Jesus at the foot of the cross and remain in the embrace of Sacred Trust.
About the Author
The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.