Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. We were supposed to gather for worship and I was to impose ashes on each of your foreheads in the sign of the cross to represent that from dust we have come and to dust we shall return. Well, weather intervened and because of a storm, most of us could not leave our homes. So, I think it’s important to share with you a bit about Lent that I would have done yesterday.

Lent is modeled after the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before being tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:2). In actuality, however, Lent lasts longer than 40 days because Sundays are not included. Sunday is always the day of Resurrection, calling for feasting rather than fasting. Sundays during Lent are often referred to as “little Easters,” moments of sheer joy on the longer and more sober 40-day journey. Little Easters provide small, but glorious, nuggets on our way to Resurrection Day.

As I have learned about these small, celebratory interludes during the typical pattern of Lent, I’ve wondered if they could be a model for other long-enduring times of sacrifice. Claiming small, joyous moments, even when living in the serious reality of the present, keeps in our minds the whole story of God. Little Easters along the way provide for us strength to press on.

Is your God gloomy?” Many of us have been pessimistic for some time. Perhaps it began with COVID, perhaps even before for some of us. Focusing on the hardship surrounding us prevents us from looking for resurrection joy. We need to be reminded of the whole story.

God suffers with us, but God also exudes joy. reread the Gospels and be struck by Jesus’ delight in shared meals, good wine, and playful children. Embrace moments even in the midst of the hardship and the serious needs around us. Jesus shows us that simple joys can happen even in serious times.

Knowing his death was imminent, Jesus assured his disciples of their connection, like a vine and branches, and of their eventual reunion. He said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). They would need examples of the joy to come, given all that transpired over Good Friday and Saturday. Horror and sorrow, disappointment and doubt disturbed his disciples to the extent that they abandoned him.

Lent invites us to reflect on our own sin. The sign of the cross on our foreheads presses upon us the depth of Christ’s sacrifice. But Jesus also shows our hearts mercy, as he did his disciples, in tracing reminders of the rest of the story on our hearts. We grasp both the grief and the glory.

The opportunities are all around us. What little Easters can we celebrate now? What words could we speak to showcase joy and new birth?

A colleague posted on Facebook yesterday-In this time of disaffiliation and turmoil within The United Methodist Church and with the "revival at Asbury, what are we expecting as Christ followers? That may be a strange question, but I wonder if God isn't doing a new thing? If so, how should we respond? What if we open ourselves to the new things that God is doing in our midst, get out of the way, and serve as conduits of hope and encouragement

. I invite each of us during this Lenten season to look at the opportunities around us and to open ourselves to what God is doing in our midst, even if it means change will happen.

Through prayer and repentance may we celebrate the Little Easters of Lent, followed by Resurrection Day (Easter Sunday) when we remember Jesus’ resurrection that came after his life, suffering, crucifixion and death.


Pastor Nancy