Sunday, March 05, 2006

First Sunday in Lent, March 5, 2006

In the name of the God the Creator, Jesus the Liberator, and the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. AMEN.

Here it is once again. The First Sunday in Lent. And since I have been here for a few years now many of you know what to expect. A more austere service. Less singing. More solemnity in the service. And my usual sermon that we should focus less on we will be giving up and more on what we will be doing. The crosses are veiled and there are not “alleluias”. Sort of a dismal time in the church year.

This season also starts with the temptation of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. This was a storm Jesus was required to face. Temptation is something we can all identify with. It comes to us in many different ways. Sometimes very subtle sometimes not.

But I was struck by the Old Testament passage as I was preparing for this sermon.

Here in the middle of all this Lenten activity there is a rainbow. I think rainbows are one of the most beautiful things in all of creation.

The idea of a rainbow in Lent has caused me some consternation. It does not seem to fit well with my comfortable understanding of Lent. It challenges me to look at this season in a new light with new eyes.

I have to ask myself where do I find the rainbow of Lent? And I have to ask you where do you find the rainbow of Lent in your own Christian journey. Of course the obvious answer is that we find that rainbow at the end of Lent with the resurrection, and while very true, I think that is too pat and easy an answer for any of us.

Rainbows challenge us to look at things in new ways. Rainbows bring beauty out of storms and rain. In fact, rainbows require storm or rains to bring them out (ok, ok, I know you can find them around waterfalls too). All of us face storms in our lives. We cannot avoid them. But these storms help us mature and grow in our faith. In the end these storms are the makings of rainbows.

When we face difficulties in our lives what we need to remember is that they are the source of rainbows in our lives. When you feel like your life has been like standing out in a deluge for two days and you are so soaked to the bone that you can feel the water running down your skin under your clothes and are miserable and wet and cold, remember: a rainbow will be following the storm.

Lent is the stormy time in the church calendar. Jesus faces his temptation in the Gospel today. The world has just been destroyed in the Old Testament lesson. We count down the days until that utter failure, at least from the world’s point of view, the crucifixion.

But God is in the business of surprising us. Giving us blessing out of hardship. Giving us the resurrection out of the crucifixion. Giving us the rainbow from rain.

The lesson of Lent is to be faithful to God, to trust God in the good times and in the tough times. Look for the rainbows in our lives.

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