During Lent we are to prepare for Good Friday and the crucifixion, but we also must remember that we are, thanks to God’s loving grace, forgiven. In the midst of the worst of times there is also, with God’s presence, hope.
The days following September 11, 2001 felt like Lent to me. However, my experience at St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway, in New York City, also gave me hope.
As you may know I served and celebrated the Holy Eucharist there on Christmas Eve and on a day in February. St. Paul’s Chapel had a back fence. On the other side of that fence was the giant crater – where buildings had been. In the days immediately following the September 11th attacks, St. Paul’s Chapel was a resting place for police officers, fire fighters, and construction workers who could come to the church for hot food, quiet rest, and conversations. Outside on Broadway, the crowds spilled out into the street. They were quiet, somber, and respectful – unlike so many New York City crowds.
Inside and outside there was a strong sense of hope, of faith, and of pulling together to do whatever needed to be done.
The reason that death has lost its sting is because of the great work of redemption and forgiveness that Jesus Christ gave freely to us on the cross. And that should be our focus for Lent.
So, what does it mean for you and me to be followers of Christ today? Does “to follow” mean “to go where he went”? What are the“places” of need where we should go – following him? Who are those in need, who need help and hope? Will you follow him – even to the cross?