Risen Indeed!

“Discerning signs has to do with comprehending the remarkable in common happenings, to see portents of death where others find progress or success, but simultaneously, to behold tokens of the reality of the resurrection or hope where others are consigned to confusion or despair.”  —William Stringfellow

For the last seven weeks, we’ve shared in a 40-Day Spiritual Adventure, a season traditionally known as Lent. During this season, we’ve engaged in a sermon study called “Glittering Vices, Glorious Virtues.” These deadly vices and their counterparts include gluttony and self-restraint, sloth and diligence, anger and forgiveness, greed and generosity, envy and kindness, lust and chastity, and today, pride and humility.

During this season, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and worked together to beautify the Conejo Elementary School campus, gathered and sorted canned goods for Manna, tutored local grade schoolers, staffed booths at the Many Mansions Spring Fair, and participated in the “Bowls of Hope” community event. We’ve gathered corporately for an area wide Unity Service, a LipSync fundraiser event, and Good Friday services for children, teens, and adults. In our own ways we’ve also prayed, fasted, reflected on Scripture, visited those in need, shared in hospitality, and pursued reconciliation.

Today, we reach the high point of our 40-Day journey as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ following our remembrance of his crucifixion on Good Friday. This journey was designed in part to sharpen our awareness of the sins in which we regularly engage so that we might reflect on who our habits are forming us to be. This was also to help us reflect on how we have participated in the crucifixion of Jesus, who willingly gave himself to die for our sins. As Edna Hong suggests, “The purpose of Lent is… to create a healthy hatred for evil, a heartfelt contrition for sin, and a passionately felt need for grace.”

But the ultimate purpose of Lent is not to promote a weary brooding over sin.  Lent is rather like an upward descent that leads us from the cross to the empty tomb, where we find ourselves standing in the white light of a new beginning. Edna Hong writes, “There is no motivation for works of love without a sense of gratitude, no sense of gratitude without forgiveness, no forgiveness without contrition, no contrition without a sense of guilt, no sense of guilt without a sense of sin.” In other words, we’re far better prepared to live out our Easter faith once we’ve truly comprehended our complicity in Good Friday. Once we appreciate the lengths to which Christ has gone to cancel the debt of our sin, we are gratefully drawn into virtuous living by our appreciation for God’s active grace. May the Risen One continue to draw us forward on our journey into Christlikeness until, at last, we meet Him on that great and promised day.

Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall