Lectionary readings for today:
Morning Psalms 22; 148
First Reading Jeremiah 5:1-9
Second Reading Romans 2:25-3:18
Gospel John 5:30-47
Evening Psalms 105; 130
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest. – Psalm 22:1-2
Lent is a dark time. It begins with Ash Wednesday, the day on which we are reminded of our own mortality, a basic fact of our existence our culture tries everything to ignore. We have yet to go through Maundy Thursday, a day we are asked to remember the ways in which we betray God, each other, ourselves. Good Friday is such a dark day in the calendar the Roman Catholic church does not celebrate a mass on that day, the only day of the liturgical year they do not do so. There seems to be no hope left.
Lent is a long time. Ash Wednesday seems like years ago by now. We vaguely remember the ashes and what was said, but little else. Easter seems so far away. We’re just looking forward to the weekend; thinking about a day in April when we’ve barely begun March seems impossible. We have miles to go before we get to Jerusalem, and the journey will not be enjoyable.
The readings today certainly remind us of both of these facts. The psalmist cries out about being forsaken by God; Jeremiah lays out the punishment that will come (and should come) to Israel. Paul develops a complicated, almost legalistic, argument about sin and circumcision that does not seem to offer much hope, and even Jesus tells the crowd that they have not listened to Moses, and they don’t seem likely to listen to him, either.
Lent is a dark time. Lent is a long time. But Psalm 130, the final reading for the day, concludes, “O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” Our iniquities are dark, and they are long, but redemption is coming.
God, help us to walk through the darkness, through the long, long road to Jerusalem.
Give us faith in the light that is there, even when we are unable to see it.