of new life
Lent: Arrival of new life
by Jarrod McKenna | Diocesan Mission Advisor
Easter Tuesday, our lil’ family is expecting a baby boy. Kat’s third trimester coinciding with this season has me meditating on Lent in new ways. I’m doing things I’ve never done before. Setting up a cot. Making room for a nappy draw. Getting a car seat. Arranging baby’s room. Baby-safing the house. Enjoying sleep while it lasts! And things are arriving
from around the world that I’ve never seen in the mail before; cute little jumpsuits, hand knitted booties and today a handmade rug for baby from our dear friend Peri Zahnd sent all the way from Missouri! In the midst of this, here’s the humble revelation that is resting in my heart:
Lent isn’t about giving stuff up. Lent is preparing for the new world God has birthed at Easter. Lent is about making room for the arrival of new life, Easterlife, the New Creation, now.
Remember all that good stuff we sang at Christmas? The hope of the Hebrew prophets not off-somewhereelse but at hand? Here are a couple of stanzas to hum from two of my favourites to help connect the dots between Christmas and Easter. Between the birth of Christ and the birth of God’s Kingdom at the Cross and in the Resurrection:
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
No thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse if found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Here is Easter’s outrageous claim: the hope of the Hebrew prophets (all that ‘peace on earth’ stuff we sang at Christmas) isn’t far-far-away but is in fact underway. Underway in the strangest of ways! How strange? Well, apparently transformation doesn’t come through political manoeuvring, or powerstruggles, or dropping bombs. Viewed through the resurrection we can now see true transformation came through the non violent-suffering-love of God at the Cross. Turns out God was reconciling the world to Godself in Christ, not counting our sins against us.
This is why reconciliation is our passion (2 Corinthians 5:19). Lent is the season when we again prepare for new [kingdom] life. With those preparing for baptism at Easter, we renew our commitment to live out our baptism. To again hear God’s invitation in Christ:
In My power, by My grace, be My resurrection people. Live My love. Live as a witness to My dream for creation. Deny your old-self, take up your cross, and in My power and by My grace, walk as Jesus walked. Look at the news and its clear God’s kingdom is not here in its fullness. The nightmares of catastrophic bushfires, ecological crisis, wars and rumours of wars, poverty, cruelty to refugees… it’s clear that the love we see at Calvary is not [yet] a universal reality.
Yet lent calls us again to our baptism, a once off event that is to become our daily way of life where we die to all that Christ has conquered, and do so in the power that raised him from the dead. (Romans 6:4-10) Lent is not about giving stuff up. Lent is the season in the church calendar when we are rearranging our lives to welcome the birth of God’s kingdom of Calvary-likelove that broken into history at Easter.
‘But Jarrod, can we really expect that from the church?’
If Christ has not been raised, grace-filled lives of non violent-Calvary-like-love is a ridiculous expectation in our fallen world. But if He is, this adventure of grace is what the Holy Spirit empowers us for!
‘But Jarrod, can’t I just give up wine and chocolate?’
I wonder if the Apostle Paul might respond with something like: ‘Lent isn’t a matter of what we do or don’t eat and drink for 40 days. Lent is about healingjustice! Lent is about peace! Lent about joy in the Holy Spirit!’ (Romans 14:17).
God in Christ has birthed a new world.
Lent asks: Are we ready?