Saturday, March 4, 2006


Walt Wangerin's book Reliving the Passion is a good resource for an intentional walk through Lent. Wangerin is a Lutheran minister (and writer and teacher) whose stories from his small Evansville, Indiana parish live vibrantly in numerous books. Daily scripture readings from the Gospel of Mark combine with Wangerin's insightful story weavings on the journey to the Cross. Wangerin offers four reasons for doing Lent...

ASHES. First, "it is necessary now to remember death, our own and our Savior's." Wangerin sees in the story of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) a warning and invitation for us all. "Fool, this is as simple as it gets: if you do not interrupt your life with convictions of the death to come, then neither shall your death, when it comes, be interrupted by life. Life now, death later, indeed! But your life will be now only, and brief. Your death will be forever." Wangerin adds: "When we genuinely remember the death we deserve to die, we will be moved to remember the death the Lord in fact did die--because his took the place of ours."

THE MIRROR. A second reason for reliving the Passion is this: "the passion of Christ, his suffering and death, is a mirror. Only when I have the courage fully to look, clearly to know myself--even the evil of myself--will I admit my need for healing. But if I look away from the one I have hurt, I also turn away from the one who might forgive me; I reject the very source of my healing. It is right to recognize our sin as the cause of death, to see in Christ's story our sorrier selves and our need of his holy self."

THE ROADMAP. Third reason: "It is expedient to study the Way by which all his disciples follow him, and to receive the promise of a personal meeting with Christ on the Way." Wangerin looks at Christ's passion as "a detailed itinerary of the disciple's life. But even though we walk the way of conflict, criticism, enmity, persecution, suffering and death, Jesus ever goes before us."

GRIEVE NOW, JOY LATER. The fourth good reason to do Lent is to prepare for joy, Wangerin points out. "The difference between shallow happiness and a deep sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives happiness dies. It cannot stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. In the sorrows of Christ, as we ourselves experience them, we prepare for Easter, for joy."

Graphic: One of several hundred portrayals of Jesus from the "Images of Jesus" website

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