Preparing for Joy

It is Lent, a time of remembering for me.  Remembering who I am and what I have been given.  I am a child of God and I have been give unconditional love and amazing grace.  Things I think I take for granted too often.  Every year during Lent I read a devotional written by Walter Wangrin Jr. called Reliving The Passion.  It's a devotional that really helps me focus every day on this terrible and beautiful season of the church year.  So here I am again, reading this book and I have just read one of my favorite chapters.  Wangrin outlines three reasons for reliving the passion.  Reasons that really help me do more than just remember what Jesus did for me, but help me to experience it.  I wanted to share them with you. Perhaps they will help you as you walk towards the cross and ultimately to the empty tomb.
1.  Ashes: it is necessary now to remember death, our own and our Savior's
2. The Mirror:  it is right to recognize our sin as the cause of death, to see in Christ's story our sorrier selves and our need of his holy self.
3. The Roadmap:  it is expedient to study the Way by which all his disciples must follow him, and to receive the promise of a personal meeting with Christ on the Way.
4.  Prepare for Joy: it is important that we grieve His death for it is the experience of genuine grief that prepares for joy.
Wangrin digs deeper into these reasons in different chapters of the book.  This morning I read the chapter that explores the fourth reason, Preparing for Joy.  It resonated so deep within my heart, that I want to share some of how Wangrin explored this idea…
"The difference between shallow happiness and a deep sustaining joy is sorrow.  Happiness lives where sorrow is not.  When sorrow arrives, happiness dies.  It can't stand pain.  Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief.  Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope – and the hope that has become our joy does not (as happiness must for those who depend upon it) disappoint us.  In the sorrows of the Christ, as we ourselves experience them, we prepare for Easter, for joy.  There can be no resurrection from the dead except first there is a death.  But then, because we love him above all things, his rising is our joy.  And then the certain hope of our own resurrection warrants the joy both now and forever.
What causes joy…  This: not just that the Lord was dead, but that you grieved this death.  That for three days, you yourself did suffer his absence, and then the whole world was for you a hollow horror… The disciples approached the Resurrection from their bereavement.  For them the death was first, and the death was all.  Easter, then, was an explosion of Newness, a marvelous splitting of heaven indeed.  But for us, who return backward into the past, the Resurrection comes first, and through it we view a death which is, therefore, less consuming, less horrible, even less real.  We miss the disciples' terrible, wonderful preparation.  Unless, as now, we attend to the suffering first, to the cross with sincerest pity and vigilant love, to the dying with most faithful care – and thus prepare for joy."
I pray that Joy will explode in your heart this Easter in a new and glorious way.  May you find time to walk with Jesus to Golgotha, experience His death and live in His joy!
I'd love to hear how you are journeying through this Lenten Season.

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