Maybe it’s the weather today. It’s still cold today, but walking in the sun back across center city, I could feel a warmth despite the chill. And I could imagine that the globe is beginning to tilt towards the sun and spring. That’s where the English word “Lent” comes from anyway: “lencten” was old English for “Spring.”
The “wilderness plants” are back in place at the chancel. They are our visible reminder of the wilderness we find ourselves in (mostly the wilderness we make for ourselves!), as we attend to our sinfulness and await the promised land of resurrection and Easter.
One of the first stories in the Lenten lectionary is how immediately after his baptism, at the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was driven into the wilderness to struggle with temptation. 40 days, just as many days as we have in Lent, until Jesus vanquished his temptations. And mirroring the 40 years the Israelites spent wanding in their wilderness, before crossing over Jordan to enter the Promised Land.
Each year when I bring the pencil cactuses from my house back to church for the beginning of Lent, I worry about them freezing, as they are being transported and even in the Sanctuary when the heat is down. But they are desert plants and hearty. And as we get closer to Easter, they usually begin to sprout little new growth, little leaves on the ends of their bare branches. And by the time they get moved aside for palms and then lilies, it’s Springtime.
Also, you’ll notice Sunday’s cover presenting a Lenten theme of steep climb, mountaintop, living water and light leading to life and growth. Billi. A.-C. is our artist for this cover. She explains:
“Several people have said — when thinking of an image of what Lent means — that “mountains/struggle and light at the end/reward” were the images that came to mind.
I went through my postcard collection and put together this progression of mountains as struggles, the ocean as the calm once we’ve accepted our challenge, and finally the light shining through the trees as hope for the future.
All the postcards were mailed to me from people that I have never met but who share a love of postcards.”
And the parapets on the pulpit and lectern and Michael’s stole have been changed to purple to represent the season of repentance in preparation. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear similar strains in the music — instrumentals, anthems, hymns and responses.
Welcome to the 40 days in preparation for the high holiday of our Faith!
See you in church,