40 Days

AshWednesdayIt was late in the evening when I walked into the neo-natal intensive care unit at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. The small, clear incubator held the under-sized child, who had multiple tubes and wires attached to his body, bringing him oxygen, food, and monitoring his vital statistics. There were bright lights over the little bed, bringing both light and warmth to the fragile baby.

 His mother was sitting in a rocking chair next to the incubator, slowly rocking…and just staring in at her son.

 “There is nothing we can do.” She said. “I want to be able to do something. I want to be able to fix him. I want to make him well. But I can’t. It’s just time we need.”

 I nodded. She was right. At this point, everything medical that could be done had been done. The child was in the best unit, with the best doctors, with the best equipment…

 All that was left was to wait.

 This feels a lot like Lent.

 Lent is an awkward season because it’s one of waiting. It challenges my impatience. It forces me to sit and think. It frustrates me. I want Easter to come. I want spring. I want new life…and I don’t particularly want to wait for it. But there is nothing that I can do to make Easter come any quicker. Lent, all 40 days of it, is what it is. And every year we experience it, both as a reminder of Christ’s sacrificial love for us, and as a journey.

 And so during Lent we wait. And we pray. And we worship together. We gather together because during times of waiting it is always better to be together. And together we remember Jesus and his love. We remember what he did for us. During Lent we journey with Jesus, all the way to the cross.

 And as people of faith, we know the outcome. We know that Easter is coming. There is a promise that with all our hearts we believe will be fulfilled.

 That baby boy in the NICU? A few weeks later, his Mom and Dad walked him out of the hospital and brought him home. There was joy and celebration.

 We know that after the 40 days of Lent, there will be Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. But we also know that Easter will come. And there will be smiles, joy and celebration. There is promise that we cling to. Yes, we experience the waiting of Lent. But it will be followed by the joy of Easter. And so we wait…and follow…

 Prayer:  God of love, as we enter the season of Lent, we ask you to bless us with both patience and strength.  Patience to await the miracle of Easter, with the joy it brings, and strength to endure the times when waiting is hard.  Be with us as we step into the journey of Christ to the cross, and help us to learn from his example, as we receive his gifts of grace.  All this we ask in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

This was originally posted in Trinity’s lenten devotional booklet.

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