Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Restored Life (The Second Sunday of Lent)

So hold fast, children of the Father, and look with eagerness and reverence towards the Resurrection. 

We settle onto the beds, blankets heaped around us in piles, sheets scrunched at the bottom. The springs creak as we shift our weight, and she looks at me from across the sea of books and papers and broken pencils and unworn outfits. She wants to know what I think about the atonement. She wants to know how I understand it. What that cross and the man stretched out on it mean for this world, for our hearts.

I take a deep breath. Who am I, Father? I tell him in my head as I start talking. Who am I to speak these words about you? But the words flow like a stream from somewhere else, and as I speak, I lean in to hear the story He's telling us both.

I find myself talking about being rescued. How in the Orthodox Church, sin and death are emphasized as disease, the consequences of our turning away and our disobedience. Christ comes to rescue us from this condition - to trample down death by death. He comes to restore life to us.

I talk about how the Incarnation blesses our bodies - blesses pregnancy, and neediness, learning and growth spurts, feelings of hunger and frustration and yearning for more. Because He came. He came to be God with us, I say to her, and I tear up at these words. He came to bless again this created goodness. To participate in it. To restore its original glory.

It is Lent, and so we bend our hearts before the Incarnation as we remember that He chose this way to save us. What a paradox it is: the way of the Cross is the way of glory. The child in the manger is saving the world.

It catches hold of my heart this week: He is here to restore life, not to whisk us away from it. He doesn't want us to live in contempt of the beautiful world He has made; only in contempt of what is hardened, disobedient and destructive. Because He entered this world and blessed blood and sweat and childbirth, and grew up in the world, and died for the life of the world. He comes with healing in His hands. He comes with new life.

So Lent is about restored life. Lent is about discovering where we are sick, desperately so. I am jealous and prideful. I am greedy. I am impatient. I am disdainful. As we name these diseases we bring them before Him, Physician of our souls and bodies. And He heals us.

This week, as we continue to walk in the way of repentance, yearning for Easter, may we remember that the journey is about life, restored to us in full.

Pray with me, from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer:

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious
to all who have gone astray from thy ways, and bring them
again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and
hold fast the unchangeable truth of thy Word, Jesus Christ
thy Son; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and 
reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



  1. "the Incarnation blesses our bodies - blesses pregnancy, and neediness, learning and growth spurts, feelings of hunger and frustration and yearning for more." 
    Ugh. YES. These and all the rest are words to lean against. Beautiful and true. 

  2. Antonia - I know! I lean on the Incarnation often in these busy weeks. He blessed this world. And it's beautiful. I hope that you can feel that blessing this week. 

  3. Oh Hilary, you are one of my favorite writers. My very favorite.

  4. Thank you, Lisa-Jo! Right back atcha. I can't wait to see you soon!


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