Then Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”Luke 9:23-24
Today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of – the entry point to – the season of Lent. I like to think of Ash Wednesday as a door we can access, a portal which, having stepped through, we can maybe close behind us if we have the will, allowing us to navigate our way toward Easter on a different path, subtly slipping the bonds of “life as usual” and traversing a parallel universe of sorts.
The tie-in to Ukraine is this impossible to avoid apprehension of the dark reality that is human sin, and suffering, and the clear and present message that the world is in need of healing. We need redemption. We. Need. Jesus. Jesus came – we know this – to bring healing, and victory, and light, and life overflowing with abundance, but in order for us to receive this gift he allowed the darkness to absorb him for a season, and in a way this immersion into darkness was formative in terms of Christ’s victory.
I am not necessarily a proponent of “giving things up” for Lent, but I do recognize the need for us to understand the path that Jesus walked for us; the suffering he endured so that we could enter into life; the ultimate cost of our selfishness, our pride, our arrogance, our entitlement.
Share in Ukraine’s suffering:
If Lent is to achieve anything then I want it to lead us into a deeper understanding. I believe that this year we are called to “enter into” the suffering of Ukraine, to try in some way to sympathize in terms of the deeper meaning of the word: “sym·pa·thize: to share in suffering or grief.”
Not to use Ukraine as an object lesson but to understand, viscerally, and to – like Jesus – actually do something about it.
The invitation of Jesus for the next forty days is to more truly know why he came, why he suffered, why he died, and what has been accomplished via his resurrection and this “New Creation” life!
So let’s pray for Ukraine. Let’s pray that our commitment to life will be amplified through our willingness to understand darkness. And let’s pray for peace, the peace that is beyond understanding; but not – I pray – beyond achievement.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7
Some more sunflowers for Ukraine: