Douglass Blvd Christian Church

an open and affirming community of faith

n open and affirming community where faith is questioned and formed, as relationships are made and upheld. 

Filtering by Category: Easter

Pain Isn't All Bad

“Holy and beneficial is the time of preparation in which the Almighty Judge is moved to show us mercy, to show repentance to the sinner, and to offer peace to the just. All things (this week) are now prepared for pardon, the sinner for confession, and the tongue to plead for mercy” (Maximos the Confessor).

Here we stand. Lent is about to culminate in the tragic passion of Holy Week. Our study, prayer and devotion have all worked together to bring us to this point. Lent has shown us the overpowering reality of the power of darkness in our lives; it has allowed us to see the grave consequences of our sin as they reach their natural conclusion on Good Friday. But more than that, Lent has taught us that the life we thought we were living apart from Christ was really death. All the pretensions to importance and busyness have been shown to be masks attempting to cover our confusion and lostness. Lent lays bare before us that which we had hoped to avoid--namely, the fact that apart from Christ we are dead.

Growing up, I thought Lent was something that Catholics did, which had something vaguely to do with giving up candy. Now, I see the whole matter differently. Giving up something dear to us for Lent is not a way to polish our halos, not a way to reestablish a righteousness based on our own efforts. Rather, the spiritual disciplines of Lent allow us an opportunity to say to a world bent on avoiding pain at all costs, that we are a people who identify with a Savior who endured great pain to save us from the sin that beset us, that we are a people for whom sacrifice and service is a part of life. If one of the main images of our faith is a man hanging on a tree, how could it be otherwise?

Lent provides a context in which to understand the state of our hopelessness, and makes provision for our reconciliation to the Christ we had a hand in crucifying. In the final analysis, Lent has shown us, both that we are sinners in need of repentance and that God refuses to hold our sin against us.

Even after our complicity in the grave iniquity committed during Holy Week, a way to God has been provided through Jesus. And that, my friends, is why we have the audacity to call any week as gruesome as this one . . . holy—and any day as awful as Friday . . . good, because we know that the path to new life leads through “the valley of the shadow of death.” And we have a Savior who walked through it before us.

Lent may at times be painful, but you will never fully understand Easter apart from the pain it took Jesus to get there. “All things are now prepared for pardon, the sinner for confession, and the tongue to plead for mercy.” Maximos knew. It couldn’t be otherwise.