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PREPARING FOR LENT
In January I was invited to lead an Adult Forum at Tanque Verde Lutheran Church, Tucson, AZ, under the topic "Folding Our Earthly Tent". The focus was on preparing for end of life matters and concerns. The Scriptural foundation is Paul's familiar words in 2 Corinthians 5:1 "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."
On Wednesday, March 5, Christians around the globe will find their way into sanctuaries and other gatherings to receive our baptism tattoo, the mark of the cross made with ashes. We will hear the familiar words of "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return."
This launch into Lent allows us to embrace, accept, and acknowledge what our death-denying culture shields against. We are mortal. We will die. These bodies we have will eventually give out or tragically be broken or destroyed by age, disease, accident, or acts of violence. We don't necessarily know when, but we know we will not avoid it. As people of faith we know that daily breath and daily bread are gifts given to us. As people of faith we have mourned, grieved, and lamented when a life we love has been cut short or whittled away by some life-eating cancer, neurological pathology, or untreatable infection. As people of faith we have accompanied senior saints, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, spouses, siblings or simply friends, whose minds have left before bodies have failed, or bodies have withered while minds remain alert. None of us is immune from exposure of our Lenten witness: "From dust you have come and to dust you shall return."
So Lent offers us an annual invitation to actually not dwell on death, but dwell on life. It is an invitation to walk with Jesus as he prepares his disciples for Good Friday and beyond. It is an invitation to look at what really matters and how relationships are so critical to the significance and meaning we seek for a life. It is an invitation to once again experience the awesomeness of God joined to the humility of God through the witness of God incarnate, Jesus, as he journeys to Jerusalem for the sake of God's relationship with all of humanity for all of time. It is an invitation to live life in the present, knowing today is and tomorrow is not yet, so rather than worry about tomorrow let's celebrate today through acts of love, mercy, and kindness, acts that reflect Jesus in theworld and Jesus in our lives.
Lent is also a time to encourage us as the good folks at Tanque Verde Lutheran have been doing, to wrestle with how we can best prepare for the end of this life, knowing the promise of life with Jesus beyond this one. To assist you or your community in beginning the conversation my handouts from the forum and links to other resources to assist family members and congregations to prepare to fold their earthly tent can be found below.
Marked with the Cross of Christ Forever,