2014 Lent 39

Good Friday

John 19:38-42

You know, since beginning this self-imposed Lenten discipline of writing something everyday based on a lectionary reading, a lot of numbers have been going though my head.  Numbers like 50, 62.5, 77.5, 85, and, today, 97.5.  These are percentages, if you care to know, based on how much of my Lenten discipline has been accomplished thus far.  (Tomorrow will be Day 40: 100%.)

These numbers started occurring to me before 50–probably something more like 35–about the time, that is, when I began losing momentum.  This post-a-day business has been a difficult discipline to keep!

What started out as a quaint idea–to write a short devotion, and by short I was envisioning something like 250 words–quickly raised the bar.  I don’t know if I thought it was fun in the beginning or what, but if you were to go back and look at the first few Lenten posts, they each contain far more than 250 words.  (“2014 Lent 1,”, for example, is 787 words, and I believe it’s one of the shorter ones.)  Anyway, before I knew it, I felt like my personal bar was more like 800 words.  In the end, I think only two posts came out to fewer than 300 words (unless today’s or tomorrow’s does too–but today’s is already near 200); and my average (though I haven’t verified) has got to be above 800.  (Let’s see: that’s 800 x 40 = 32,000 words, or a fourth of a book.  Dang!)

So you see how numbers bully me?

Also, do you have any idea how much time it takes to write 800 words a day on average?  And something that’s quasi-suitable for publishing?

Needless to say, mine has been a tiring Lenten discipline this year.

But today I will have completed 97.5% of it.  Yes!  One day to go!

Now, to tie this in with today’s lectionary selection, I’m going to tell you why I didn’t just quit, just bail out on my self-imposed extra discipline during the busiest season of the year for a priest.  And it’s simply this: because Jesus didn’t bail out 97.5% of the way through.

I mean, try to imagine Christianity if Jesus had been in the Garden on the fateful night and said, “Not your cup, Father, but mine.  I ain’t gonna go through with it!”  Or, worse still, if after he had been executed and laid in the tomb–the thing we remember most acutely today, Good Friday–what if he had just stayed there?  What if he had gone 97.5% of the way?

I’ll tell you: there would have been no resurrection.  That’s means no Christianity, no concept of the Trinity, no new commandment of love, no Church.

Now some of you readers might want to argue that that’s not such a bad scenario.  But I disagree.

Yeah, without the Church there may not have been any Crusades; yeah there may not have been the medieval Church, an institution that held controlling sway over most European peoples for a thousand years.  Yeah, the Church has made mistakes.

But wars, battles, controlling and liberty-killing governments–these things cannot be blamed on the Church.  You should know better!  (Just look at 20th-century Russian history!)  These things happened long before Christianity ever came about; and they will continue to happen throughout human history–though we can hope and strive for less so as time marches on.

Rather, what the Church can be blamed for is the hope of resurrection in Christ; and his love being poured out to the ends of the earth.  Hope and love?  These are fuel for acts of charity–or, to put fashionable clothes on it, progress.  How can anyone fault the Church for that?

Anyway, I for one am grateful that Jesus went 100% of the way through with the work he came to do.  The least I can do is show it by sticking to this little commitment I made in his name, to write a little everyday during Lent, to complete something I started–even if it inconveniences me a little bit.

But I’ll say this: after Lent is over I plan to take a few days off from this blogging business.

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