Some of you may know that I've been discovering the liturgical year this year. I began in Advent and have been researching and participating in each season as the Lord leads. Lent began on Wednesday.
I've been reading about this season for a while now to get ready. Lent is described by the book I'm reading (Living the Christian Year) as a time of "bright sorrow." I started off on Ash Wednesday by going to an Episcopal service early in the morning. As we read through the liturgy, I found myself caught up in the hope, in the joy which was mingled with our sorrow and penitence.
On Friday, we had C.S. Lewis chapel here at school. Dr. Jerry Root from Wheaton came to speak. He talked about how we as believers should be so comfortable and secure in God's love for us that we are comfortable asking Him anything. I had not thought of this before, it always seems that doubting is discouraged, and certainly not for the confident and secure in their faith. Still, this makes sense. As kids, it seems like we all ask questions of our parents which seem tough to answer (why is the sky blue? who made God? why did you marry Daddy?) We ask these questions because our parents "know everything." We are confident that they have answers and will let us know what is going on. So it should be with God.
Saturday was my 22nd birthday and I spent a day doing things I love with people I love. It was a time of exuberance, stresslessness and joy. True celebration.
This morning, I pulled myself out of bed and went to church. My Indiana pastor talked about 1 Peter 1 today. A lot of what I got out of this sermon had to do with celebration. He pointed out that we have been saved, and eternity should start now. This is the time to press in for more of God, to celebrate that we ARE living forever. The Kingdom of Heaven is now.
Here in Lent, I don't need to worry, I know the end of the story. This is a time for me to focus on what God wants to do and change in me. It's a time of closeness to Him and letting Him refine me. As my pastor said, our time here on earth is a time to get to know God. This doesn't mean that I'm not celebrating what God has done and continues to do, in fact, just the opposite, I'm celebrating, and totally secure, you see, I'm going to live forever.
I don't just want to celebrate on my birthday, or Christmas, or Easter, I want to take the time to celebrate every day, to bask in the Kingdom of God, and the fact that I am deeply loved by the Creator of the universe, naked mole rats, daisies, and me.
The author of my book compares "bright sorrow" to how it is when you're in a dark valley and the sunrise is cresting the surrounding mountains or you're a prisoner who has learned that you are soon to be released. For me, it's like being someone who knows that graduation is coming.
In honor of the first Sunday of Lent, I wore black, with the exception of a yellow sweater. Bright sorrow indeed.
Welcome to the celebration.