“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
We have lived through an entire year of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have done many hard things. We have been shut down, quarantined, masked, gloved, social distanced, and hand sanitized. We have listened to conflicting reports of when the virus entered the United States. We have heard conflicting reports on how to treat, how to care for and how to deal with all the symptoms of Covid-19 and those have changed as often as we change the clothes we wear. We have listened to our politicians blame each other for how the pandemic has been handled. But most of all, we have grown weary.
We are separated from one another. We are separated from those we love. We are separated from our typical daily activities. Our coping mechanisms are unavailable or changed to the point they no longer work. Our lives are quite frankly in transition. Prior to Covid-19 turning the world on its head, we were organized, ordered, and knew what to expect from our daily lives. Even though our daily lives were hectic, and we were probably, if we are willing to admit it now, tired.
Now however, we are living lives that feel upended. We are disorganized, disordered, and we don’t know what to expect from day to day. We are not only under a worldwide pandemic, but we are also, across the entire world, going through a time of transition. The world we knew no longer exists and we need to take a time out so we can sit and consider what we want the world of our future to look like.
The thing is: transitions are messy, chaotic, difficult, and scary. They are a time to mourn what we have lost as we look to the future. They make us look inward at who we are as we address those issues in our lives that we should have addressed years ago. They make us see that even if the transition is a good one, like a new baby, a promotion, a planned move, or a wedding, that we do not want to drag along all the baggage of our past. Transitions help us move forward…if we take the time to work through them.
As we see a glimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. As people are beginning to get vaccinated and we are getting ahead of the pandemic, it is time for all to take a hard look at our lives and ask the questions: “What is it time to let go of…What do we need to leave behind in our past…What no longer works?” This time of transition comes at an especially good time for those who follow the Christian faith as we are entering into a season of Lent.
Why is Lent a good time to do the work transitions demand in order to move forward? I am glad you asked! Lent is a season of reflection. It is a season where we take the time to let go. It is a time of fasting and repentance. A time when we seek to reflect on exactly what it means to us that Jesus Christ died for our sins as we consider his suffering and his sacrifice. It is a time when we can begin to let go of all that holds us back from all that God wants to give us. It is a time to release the grasping for the things of this world and claim the future of eternity with Christ. It is a time of transition as we look forward to the promise of Easter.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. For everyone, I encourage you to find a church that is celebrating an Ash Wednesday service either in person or on-line. If you find one on-line, you can still do the imposition of ashes yourself by having some dirt near-by as the words we typically say when we place the ashes on someone’s forehead is: “From ashes you were formed and to ashes you will return.” Some pastors, may say: “Remember your baptism.” I favor the first as it reminds us that we are mortal. That we have one life to live so we need to do the work of transitions well as we don’t want to carry baggage with us from one stage in life to the next. By the way, you will go through many transitions in life. It is just that right now, we are all going through one due to the pandemic.
At Grace, we will celebrate Ash Wednesday both in person and on-line. I hope you join us as we begin Lent and for the next forty days take the time to ponder “What’s next?”
BTW…our service time for our Ash Wednesday service is 6:30pm