Archive for February, 2007

h1

Ashes to Ashes: A Musing on Lent

February 20, 2007

 

Hashata hakha, l’shana haba b’ar’a d’yisrael;
Hashata avdei, l’shana haba bnei chorin.

 “This year here, next year in Israel!! This year slaves, next year free men!” (Jewish saying at Passover)

Human beings are amphibious creatures, created for eternity yet existing in linear time.  Thanks in no small part to the Industrial Revolution, it is easy to confirm that, at least in the West,  we are chained to the hands of a watch moving inexorably onward.  Even a century ago this was not so; planting would begin when leaves reached an approximate size and the workday would end around dusk.  Modern man, on the other hand, has life scheduled to the second (and wonders why he is under nearly constant pressure!).  We were not intended to live that way, faced with instantaneous change conflicting with an ingrained desire for stability. 

Think about why one of the most effective methods of torturers throughout history has been to deny their victims any sense of the true passage of time.  Separate man from knowledge of the season, day, or hour and he is lost and easily broken.   Call it circadian rhythms if you will, but we long for both transition and constancy.  Thanks be to our God, who has perfectly balanced the two.  It will be spring again, but always a *new* spring.  Feast and famine are balanced too, an apt reminder as we move towards the Great Fast of Lent.  If it was always winter but never Christmas, there would be no expectation or pleasure and life would be constant drudgery.  On the other hand, one cannot appreciate feasting without a sense of what it means to be deprived.  Judaism and liturgical Christianity allow for both, just as it should be.  When Jews celebrate the Passover, their joy in the Lord’s mighty deliverance is tempered by reminders (such as the maror, or bitter herbs) of the misery of slavery.  It is significant to remember that Christ’s last meal was a Passover seder as he both fulfilled all of the Passover customs and made them new by instituting the Lord’s Supper on that night. 

Lent must give way to Easter, sorrow to joy, but our joy is not yet complete.  Next year we may be free, but for now we are slaves, slaves to sin, slaves to this physical world.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus; because of your resurrection we hope to celebrate the Passover meal together with you once more in the New Jerusalem, ha aretz Yisrael

Read the rest of this entry ?

Advertisements