God Provides, Joshua 5:9-12
God provides for our needs, both directly and indirectly through the earth and through sharing, through gift and sacrifice. God’s provision for God’s people often results in festivals and annual remembrances. One wouldn’t call Lent a festival, but it is an important annual occurrence that calls us back to God, who provides the reminder and the way back.
God also provides cleansing from any disgrace in our lives. Disgrace seems so permanent, like a scar, but God declares that disgrace can be removed (v 9). The removal is the result of God’s grace and forgiveness. That’s something to celebrate. Perhaps Lent is a festival, after all. Disgrace is an internal stain more than an external stain. Disgrace felt on the inside can often be hidden on the outside, but God knows our inner being. We have hidden nothing from God, and God withholds no cleansing from us.
This is the reason we keep Lent: hiding disgrace is futile and unnecessary because God sees it and cleanses it. Lent reminds us again. The ashen grey on display in our places of worship calls to the disgrace that has burrowed deep into our souls. Disgrace recognizes its color and its colorlessness. Disgrace fears discovery, but God already knows it. When confessed, disgrace can be removed by God, and the turning, the returning, has begun. Forgiveness and grace rush in to the depths where disgrace has hidden. The renewal takes place in the deepest parts. God’s kingdom expands into that depth and we know we are part of that kingdom.
Like all recurring observances, Lent is life-giving. Our souls are fed and nourished once again in this remembrance’s special way.
In our passage for today, the remembrance is Passover. The blood of the sacrifice signaled the death angel to keep moving-don’t stop here. In Lent we remember Jesus, the Lamb of God, becoming our sacrifice. Rejoicing is not the right word. But joy embraces our gratitude, now deep gratitude because of where it resides in us. Rejoicing will have its day in due time, but not yet, for Jesus bears our sins. Gratitude and love unite our hearts with each other and with God and with joy in its current humility. God’s provision of time has rolled around and come to our aid again.
The recurring remembrance of Lent reminds us that the grayness moves toward light. God provides a way through the wilderness, darkness, and fear. But we must embrace the way and experience the full story. Our whole being must be present and open to God. Time and journey and story combine during these days to bring both humility and hope. God’s provision of time is marked by cycles. Humans need cyclical reminders that tell the story of redemption. Passover, Lent-life’s darkness comes, but cannot stay.
We thank you God for your provision of grace and story, of food and time.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.
All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.
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