A New Beginning

Lent is over!
 
Now the more devout among us who pledged to surrender some pleasure, engage in prayer or perform some good work for all those weeks of the Lent are set free from our resolutions. Whether we were 100% successful or fell short repeatedly, it’s all in the past.
 
But wait. Is Lent really only about those 5 weeks of discipline and self-denial?
 
Lent – the real Lent – was originally the time for the Elect to prepare for Easter Baptism and Eucharist. After their fasting and prayer, they were plunged into the waters of new birth, bathed in oil and nourished at the altar, becoming one with the community of believers. Then the real work, the real joy, the real blessing began.
 
At Easter, they were joined with the risen Christ in a type of nuptial union. So they didn’t shout:  Hooray! Lent is over! They proclaimed: The Lord is risen! Alleluia! And we are risen, too! 
 
A bride does not rejoice on her wedding day that all the planning, bridal showers, family issues and excitement is over (although she may very well utter a sigh of relief). Instead, she rejoices at the beginning of her married life. The wedding day is about marriage, not the engagement.
 
And so Easter is about what comes after. The 50 days Jesus appeared to the disciples. His Ascension into heaven. The sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The explosion of the Good News into all the world. That’s what Easter is about.
 
Whether you acknowledged Lent or not is less important today than your choice to embrace Easter.
 
Father Bob Bedard, founder of the Companions of the Cross, lived his life in the power of Easter. His invitation to his students and his congregation was always:  
 
Give God permission to do his will in your life.
 
The Risen Christ will never force his way into your life. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
 
You and I at Easter are like brides and grooms, beginning the honeymoon of the 50 days of the Easter Season. During these days, Jesus appeared to his disciples, comforted them, loved them, fed them, taught them and then poured out the Holy Spirit with such power that the house in which they were staying was shaken to its foundations.
 
Easter is not the vacation that comes after Lent. It is the new beginning. Listen again: Give God permission to do his will in your life. Our God is indeed “He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).