It’s mid-afternoon and it’s been one of those scattered, disjointed days. Office equipment malfunctioning, the seemingly constant pinging of email, several conversations about how to do this or that better, and what the church ought to consider doing, and what a healthy church looks like, and not getting my sermon done, and thinking ahead to a funeral for a friend tomorrow, and how are we going to get the kids to their various activities tonight, and don’t forget to stop at the bank, and remember to call so-and-so about such-and such, and, and, and….
Often when I am looking for inspiration, or calm, or perspective, or sanity, or hope, I turn to the writings of Frederick Buechner (no surprise to long-time readers of this blog, I know). Lent is a journey that leads toward death. We know this. But we also know that on the other side of Lent, there is life. There are times when death seems to dominate, taking over our hearts and minds, shrinking our horizons, and choking out hope. But if there is any truth whatsoever to the Christian story, it is that the promise of life—whether in our own lives, the lives of those close to us, the life of the church, or any other kind of life—is stronger and more durable and comprehensive than even the reach of death. This life is what keeps us moving, keeps us hoping, and pulls us along. As always, Buechner expresses this beautifully. This is from a sermon called “Delay” in Secrets in the Dark:
Can any one life shed light on the mystery of life itself? In some new and shattering way, can any one life make us come alive ourselves, because that is of course what we wait for, what religion is about—what churches are about, what our hymns and preaching and prayers are all about, though there are times you would hardly know it. Life: that’s what we all hunger for, wait for always, whether we keep coming back to places like church to find it or whether we avoid places like the church like the plague as the last places on earth to find it: both delivered in part and derelict in part, immigrants and mongrels all of us. It’s life as we’ve never really known it but only dreamed it that we wait for. Life with each other. Life for each other. Life with the darkness gone.