Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. In my sermons in the season after the Epiphany I have been encouraging us to reflect on the meaning of being disciples of Jesus Christ. The accounts of the apostles and disciples in the Gospels I believe are encouraging. The Apostles, who eventually would go out proclaiming that in Jesus Christ God had come and lived in our midst and had begun the transformation of the world and died for this message, in Gospels aren't so bold, and not so sure of themselves. They don't always understand Jesus and often misunderstand very direct things Jesus tells them. At times we all are very much like the disciples in the Gospels. We are on a journey from Glory to Glory, we have encountered Christ and have felt the transformation of that encounter but we aren't always sure we are living into that work of transformation nor are we always sure how to go about it.
Lent in part exists because we need a time to be reminded of certain things. So we come to Ash Wednesday and we repent. We acknowledge the ways we have not lived up to the call of discipleship. We acknowledge that we have been here before and are forgetful. We come to Ash Wednesday and we walk in the desert of Lent with Jesus to be reminded, and to grown in our understanding of the life of faith. We come again to learn what it means to be a Christian, and to meet God and be renewed and refreshed. This is the strange logic of Christian faith in passing through the desert one is refreshed and renewed, passing through death we find life, in letting go of our hard fought and won identities we find our true selves in Christ. None of this is simply a one time thing and then done. We begin at first faith and baptism and we return to this place again and again, hopefully always going deeper finding that our grip on ourselves is less tight, that our sins (no less great) are smaller hidden things we had never noticed before. This is sanctification the realm in which we open ourselves up to grace fully confident of our relationship to God in Jesus Christ. As we journey together this Lent towards the Cross and Resurrection, my hope is that we can begin to share with each other our experiences, struggles and triumphs in this life of discipleship. This it the stuff of our faith, in Lent a time of repentance, desert, fasting, and self-denial we find the power of the Gospel.