Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lent: Unraveling The Ancient Plot

Lent is about the conscious contemplation of the uncontainable truth of the gospel: the redeeming death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It's rather like trying to hold the Milky Way in a teaspoon, this pondering of the unfathomable condescending love of God.  It's very different too from our everyday thinking...there's a Crucifixion, blood sacrifice, miraculous empty tomb.  These do not fit in to the typical thought life of the average American.  We don't even see animals slaughtered anymore. (Here is where I thank God for placing me in the 21st century).  But these thoughts, odd though they seem, are rightly centered on the lofty unravelings of the plot of a foul enemy to destroy the souls of the human race.  Lent retells the dramatic story of Jesus and His masterful hoodwink, His high and mighty crushing of the head of the snake, and the unmerited restoration that this unraveling of sin has wrought for ordinary folks like you and me.

If you've never seen an episode of Columbo, starring Peter Falk as the detective from which the show's title is derived, you haven't really experienced the best of character driven television.  In most TV detective programs, one spends the entirety of the episode figuring out who committed the crime in question (usually murder).  But Columbo twisted this formula like a pretzel.  From the beginning you witness the wicked fellow or femme fatale conniving and ultimately perpetrating a murder.  You know the motive, you know the opportunity, you know the method.  You see all the details.

Columbo, meanwhile, arrives on the scene.  And typically within moments Steve and I will look at each other and say "He knows."  The joy of Columbo is watching him unravel the mystery before our eyes, finding the proof, and slowly tightening the noose around the criminal's neck in the politest of ways.

Now I know the analogy here is faulty, but I think it's fair to say that Lent is a mental replay of the inevitable demise of the ancient enemy of mankind.  The story's already written, the hero wins with great alacrity, but the scenes must be played out for all to see. The world is clearly still in a state of chaos, with sin run amuck on all fronts.  But the gospel truth is this: the crime has already been solved, prosecuted and judged.  The felon is already sentenced, goose cooked, doomed to death.  This ancient foe's only hope before the prison door is permanently sealed is to drag as many of God's beloved down with him as possible.  But the pardon for man has been signed in Christ's blood, and it is only for each of us to bow the knee in gratitude and repentance and accept the aquittal.  The noose is tightening and there is no doubt how the thing's going to turn out.  It's simply a matter of unravelling the lies and landing square in the safe harbor of a loving God.

The cost of this undoing to the Trinity was more than we can comprehend.  Again, the Universe in a thimble.  But just because we can't get it all, doesn't mean we shouldn't jump for joy for the bit we can understand. That's our call during Lent...to let that message rise up out of us, that crazy hope that sets us free from sin, darkness and the grave.  No matter how it looks in the moment.  Like Columbo, He already knows.  It is finished.

So while you change the diaper, bless the one who graced you with the child in it.  While you study the next geometric proof, contemplate the beauty of an ordered world.  While you serve the customer, fix the pipe, dress the wound, feed the cat, count the pills, suffer the loss, count the gains...while you do everything, give praise to Him who unraveled the crime for your sake, who took the judgement for your benefit, and who rose from the dead for your future.

Lofty thoughts for Lent indeed.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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