Well, Ash Wednesday didn’t turn out like expected! But neither has the last year! But Lent is here despite snow, ice, and virus. Lent is alive and well with in the hearts of believers who choose to celebrate this time of inner searching, a time of doing something over and over to help us understand the mystery of God’s love toward us. It is a time to find the simple truth within us, that love is our calling and salvation. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by evil and came out spiritually stronger for his hardship. I imagine this week has felt like 40 days for many of us as we pray for a quick return of power for everyone, with full stomachs for our hungry and thirsty. Over the next 40 days of Lent — not including Sundays — we can celebrate in the realization that God is the great healer of the human soul as He works in us and through us.
God did not send a rare storm to generally punish hundreds of millions of people. Our world is wonderfully and beautifully made, and it is alive. Just as viruses come and go, storms come to us, sometimes tragically. But it does not mean the end of the world as some enjoy talking about. Yes, snow even fell in Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land — the Golan Heights received over a foot. Some may see this as a sigh that God is going to pull the plug on the world. But instead, the kids played, the snowplows — yes, they have snow plows — came out and worked to clear the roads. Nothing new. In 2013, a major blizzard knocked out power in several neighborhoods after blanketing the city with up to 1 foot of snow. At times, this week may have seemed like the end of the world as the electricity went out and water froze in pipes. But time will move on, the temperature will rise, and we will wish for cooler weather come August.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus warns the people to not get caught up in looking for signs of the end. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” (NRSV) Jesus does not know, but over the last 30 years, I have heard a lot of false prophets who said they knew. Time and time again they were wrong, and all they had to say is the math was wrong and shoot out another date for people to follow. One thing is certain: Jesus taught, do not be caught by surprise, do not be caught looking up for the great end. Instead, we are to live and do God’s work in the kingdom of heaven on earth now, today, tomorrow, and all the days of our lives. This is not a call to arms and violence. That is for those mistakenly serving the other kingdom. Our job is clear in any weather. To love the Lord your God, love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds simple enough. Why don’t we try it more often?
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, may your house be warm, and your water clean and good to drink!