A TIME TO TAKE TIME…

For some strange (or maybe appropriate) reason.. the other day I found myself once again moved to pick up and begin to re-read the Eli Wiesel book “Night”.  For those unfamiliar with this book it is a part of the memoire trilogy of Wiesel’s time in the German concentration camps (Auschwitz & Buchenwald)  during the 2nd World War.  It is a short but powerfully heart-rending account of the horrors he experienced, the death of God in his heart (almost permanently) and his utter revulsion at the evil humankind showed itself capable of inflicting on each other.  It is not a book for the faint of heart but worth the effort. (This is my third or fourth time through it I think.)

I am sure that there is something about where my heart and head take me during the season of Lent that (subconsciously) lead me back to this book again (hence my hesitating suggestion that it is “appropriate” to be going back to it).  For indeed, this is supposed to be the season for personal reflection on the ways our world is so much less than God created it to be AND the ways I, myself, contribute to that brokenness thanks to my own selfishness and blind arrogance etc..  And so it is… once more holding up the mirror of a book like “Night” is doing what it needs to do - reminding me of the cost of being inhuman to each other; .. reminding me of the cost of losing our grasp on how critical Christ’s call to love one another - “as He has loved us” - truly is.  (For indeed, reading this book - or any of the many that recount this time of history - is not just an indictment of the Germanpeople but - much more honestly - of ALL people.  After all, not only is there more than enough “culpability” to be spread around in this - when we look at how slow and reluctant to respond the rest of the world was.  But even more importantly, once more facing this story reminds us of what we are ALL capable of when fear or selfishness root themselves too deeply in any heart or spirit.)

And indeed, even as I am reading this book about the slaughter of “the innocent” during that horrible time some 75 years ago, we are to be making ready for us all to spend the days ahead contemplating the ugly death of THE Innocent (Jesus) FOR US.  It is a rather stark contrast isn’t it - to think about the kind of hate and fear that culminated in people screaming out for Christ’s crucifixion OVER AGAINST the kind of heart Jesus showed by enduring so willingly this fiendishly painful execution to make His love for us THAT REAL?  To pause for even the briefest moment and contemplate that Jesus loves us THAT MUCH.. that Jesus faced and suffered THAT MUCH to live His love for us.. well that can’t but move us.  It can’t but reach into those deepest and most vulnerable places within us with a seed of hope and healing.

I challenge you to take time in these last two weeks of Lent to do whatever it takes for you to engage in this Passion of Christ in a new or deeper way.  Yes.. in the least.. I would strongly encourage you to carve out a bit of extra time to participate in the special services that we will offer at Bread of Life & LSC in these weeks - to give you a chance to intentionally take that pause.  But if not that or in addition to that, maybe also take time to once again read one or more of the versions of accounts of Jesus’ last days & crucifixion in the Gospels.. or google a few extra Lenten devotions and take the time to really let them in…  or give yourself a time or two to just sit in silence and think.  Whatever you do.. I guarantee it will make these next three weeks a bit more meaningful for you! (This time I include Easter week.)  Give it a chance…

-       Pr. Stewart