“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1
Here in the midst of the sober season of Lent, I am reading funeral verses and poetry. I am preparing to lead a family saying a farewell to a loved one, and helping them remember all the promises made to us in Jesus about being joined together again in heaven. The weeks before Easter are a special time for Christians, a time to ponder our state of imperfection and the failures that cause such grief and sorrow among humans. The very humanity which makes us compassionate and notice and care about injustice is the same thing that makes it possible for us to objectify others and treat them inhumanly.
In this season we look closely at our own failures and ask for forgiveness, all the time understanding that Jesus’ death makes clear to us the overwhelming love of God which makes such forgiveness possible. The tradition in this season is to pray, to fast, and to give. We are challenged to dedicate ourselves to the new life that is about to burst upon us at Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ overcoming the power of death. The new life of Jesus is the beginning of a whole new world for us, a world in which we can already live all the promises of God to be with us, to forgive us, and to give us the strength and courage to live as God’s people. We pray, knowing that our prayer is heard and that the more we pray, the more we are shaped into caring about what God wants for the world. We fast, giving up the priorities of a world that is consumed with power and success and new toys, concentrating on what is healthy and life-giving for us instead.
We give because we have been so blessed by God’s mercy and generosity, and because we trust that God will give us everything we need to make life sweet.
Life is so fragile, and our time so compromised by so many variables that are always beyond our control. We live every day by God’s grace, blessed by every breath. It is good to remember that this time, this body, is precious, but it is not all we are or all we have. Jesus’ triumph over death has won life for us that lasts from this day into forever. As we pray and fast and give in this quiet season before Easter, we are already celebrating our new life in God’s love. Happy Easter, and blessings in the days to come.
This was originally published in the Central Oregonian on the Faith Page on Feb 27, 2013.