Yesterday's By the Way column:
Instead of giving something up for Lent this year, I took something on. I decided I needed to write a brief blog post reflection on my Lenten prayers and reading for each of the forty days of Lent. I called it Leaning Into Lent. Today is my thirty-fourth day of leaning.
Last Wednesday evening at the Medicine Hat and District Ministerial Association’s Wednesday evening Ecumenical Lenten worship service I heard the word that explained why the aforementioned Lenten spiritual disciplines are so important, and, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, why I felt impelled to write forty blog posts on the subject. Pastor Jeff Decelle of Unity Lutheran Church expounded on it in his excellent homily referring to this passage:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord. (Habakkuk 3:17–18 ESV)
The word is “yet.” “What a wonderful word,” said Pastor Jeff, “a word of faith, a word that gives space for God to do something new, trusting that God still has something up his sleeve for his people, that no matter how hopeless it seems, God will act!”
Though I can’t get my mind around the magnitude of the sheer, seemingly unsolvable, migrant crisis in Europe, for example, yet I can rejoice in the Lord and the faithful, generous folk in Medicine Hat he raised up to welcome and help immigrant families find a home here. Though the church is full of unreliable hypocrites and sinners (of which I am, if not the foremost, somewhere well up in the ranks), yet I will rejoice in the mess because it is the Lord’s own mess in which I belong. Though I haven’t the wisdom, the strength or the influence to set a fair and equitable oil price, a royalty rate, solve the climate change problem, bring peace where there is war, replace another hundred jobs in Medicine Hat or make women and girls safe—the list is endless—yet I will rejoice in the Lord.
Pastor Jeff is right. Yet is something to lean on. A small word, yet with considerable divine heft. I’m going to remember it for the rest of Lent and, especially, on Easter morning, when though crucified, dead and buried, yet Jesus is risen and alive!