There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven:… - Ecclesiastes 3:1
All of us live between two points, the date of our birth and the date of our falling asleep in Christ. When the youth group and I did our cemetery scavenger hunt, one of the lessons I gave to them was the importance of the “dash”. I borrowed it from another pastor, true, but it speaks of the journey we have between our entrance into this life and our departing into the next. Seeing that dash as this season to live for God, and to serve as we are called. Some of us live on the edge of wondering if we have done enough. We live with the realization of our sin foremost in our mind (this includes your pastor as well) and needing the forgiveness that only comes from Jesus.
One of the great things I love about being Lutheran is that, unlike many of our protestant brothers and sisters, we still hold onto the rhythms of the church year. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and soon Lent. Last year during this coming season, we celebrated the “Septuagesima”, or pre-Lent, which is a time introduced centuries ago as a movement away from the amazing joys of hearing of Christ as the One kings worship, the Son of God, and the Lamb who was slain, to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
With this year’s lectionary we will be entering pre-Lent with Candlemas, or the Presentation of our Lord Sunday, hearing of Simeon and Anna being the great prophets awaiting Christ to come as a child for them to hold. This was the traditional end of Christmas in the days of King Henry VIII, where we hear those beautiful words “Now Lord, you can let your servant go in peace for your word has been fulfilled.” In the Sundays following, we will hear about salt and light, law that is fulfilled, the sinfulness of sin and the glory of reconciliation, and the amazing presence of Christ in our midst. This month of February concludes with the solemnity of Ash Wednesday and the realization of our mortality, but the marvelous gift of the One who came to rescue us from all that makes us less than who we are to be in his presence.
Each of us has our season of our life with its ebbs and flows, and its ups and downs. We each have those moments of grief over loss, pain over sins committed and omitted, but also the joys of life, the blessings of grace, the absolute need for forgiveness, and the daily mercies that come when we feel all is lost. That is this gift of the church year. It is the mercy of God lived in those rhythms of moving through the God story that has become your story. Scripture mattering because it is God speaking to you, for you in his Son.
So, don’t see this as just another winter, or another February, or another collection of days. It is not that. It is time for more gift, for more light, for more life to come to you as God sees fit to give because that is what he does.