Pilgrimage of Lent.
Here are some great thoughts on the season of Lent by a fellow minister, whom I had the pleasure of being on staff with over 10 years ago. Marcel has always had a way with words, so here it goes.
The season of Lent is upon us again. We are invited to journey through the days examining our lives, confessing our sins, relying upon our God, and following in the footsteps of Christ. Sometimes, in a long journey, we begin to forget our goal, and settle into living the travelling life. Pilgrimages are nothing new; faithful peoples throughout the ages have set forth to retrace the steps of those who’ve gone before them to places of religious significance. Most have a specific place in mind when they set out. For each of us, as Christian disciples, our Lenten journey is not a geographical objective, but a spiritual one. During the Lenten season, we journey to the cross of Jesus as we march through the season in reflection, in contrition, and in hope.
It is good for us to recapture the sense of our sorrow over our sinfulness, for it makes our hearts more attentive and tender toward the Holy Spirit. It is good for us to identify with the humanness of Jesus as he sets for us the prime example of a life that pleases God. It is good for us to decide to go forward toward a greater maturity in our faith; the path toward which is one that requires discipline and self-denial. Our Lenten pilgrimage is to a holier land than can be found on a map or in the boundaries of any earthly country. Our goal is to abide in Christ while moving through the continuum of our days doing acts of obedience and piety. In a picture, it is beneficial for us to take up our cross and follow Jesus as he leads us to our most sacred altar – the cross of Calvary whereupon sin was completely atoned.
But, our journey is not at an end when we arrive at the foot of Christ’s crucifixion, but it goes deeper. We bury our sinful nature in the sepulcher with our Lord. We descend with him to the place our souls would have been sent had he not come – we reflect on the eternal punishments of fiery hell, and with him, we travel further to escape death and hell in victory. Step and after step, in cadence with our Savior, we ride out of hell’s grasp on the wings of hope born of Christ’s holiness and follow in victorious, joyous procession returning to life everlasting. He bursts forth from the tomb with earthquakes and angelic witnesses, and we follow. Even here, our journey is not at an end.
Jesus appears to many people, helping them understand the truth of His gospel, strengthening their faith and calling them to take part in his triumph. We, too, spend our days sharing the glories the Lord of Life has bestowed upon us, sharing his message with the people in our lives. Yet, though it may seem that we are still in this phase for now, our spiritual destinations have not yet ended. By faith, we ascend with him to be seated at his right hand in eternal Heaven, for this we are in Spirit, even now. And one day, gloriously, we will be fully, body, mind, and spirit, united with Jesus in that place we taste only now by faith. This, then, in total, is our Lenten pilgrimage. Keep your eyes on the whole prize and don’t get bogged down in the slow drift of dull and dreary days, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed!