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This article originally published on Eternity News.

An actor plays Jesus in Wesley Mission’s Good Friday public performance in Martin Place, Sydney.

Soon after waking, in the dark early morning hours, rain is falling steadily on the roof of our Sydney home. It feels like the rain hasn’t stopped through this strangest of summers. My heart and prayers are with our Wesley Mission staff and clients in the Northern Rivers region of NSW – Ballina, Lismore, Woodburn and surrounds – who once again are enduring flood alerts and evacuation orders. Who knows what the days ahead will bring for our people? The trials they have already endured are gut-wrenching and devastating.

Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine drags on as horror beyond our imagination is visited on millions of its citizens. Closer to home, the news reports that yet another woman’s life was violently taken through domestic violence. All the while, the pandemic, trailing disruption and death across the world, grinds on. It feels like the world is a dark, almost hopeless place, which makes this season of Lent even more powerful and relevant.

I didn’t grow up in a church that paid close attention to the liturgical seasons like Lent, Advent and that strangely beautiful of all descriptors, ‘Ordinary Time’. Lenten practices like fasting were never, and I confess, have never been a regular part of my spiritual disciplines. It wasn’t until I began pastoring a church that Lent really entered my consciousness, and I began to appreciate the unique opportunity, in an increasingly weary and frantic world, this season provides to focus our hearts on the wonder of the Easter story.

There is something unifying and powerful about a whole community … meditating on the same themes together.

The community I served for 15 years spent the 40 days leading up to Easter preparing to celebrate the most important festival in the Christian calendar through gospel-centred daily devotionals. Across different years we spent 40 days in Romans chapter 8 or the Apostles’ Creed and the like, and our Sunday messages aligned with our weekday reflections. There is something unifying and powerful about a whole community, young and old, mature Christians and those still seeking after truth, meditating on the same themes together.

One year our church’s Lenten season centred around Bible teacher Jeff Manion’s book, The Land In Between – Finding God in Difficult Transitions. In his book, Manion reflects on the wilderness years the Israelites endured after their Exodus from slavery in Egypt and before their eventual entry into the Promised Land. For 40 years, Israel experienced the desert – both literally and spiritually. As they traversed this ‘land in between’, God formed and shaped a people who had almost forgotten him through centuries of slavery.

40 is very much a biblical number. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness, and Jesus spent 40 days in the same – the days between his baptism and commencement of his public ministry. While in the wilderness, Jesus was tested and tempted. Through the power of the Holy Spirit that rested on him, in this ‘land in between’, Jesus was being prepared for the three years of ministry that lay ahead, three years that would culminate in the Easter events. It’s Jesus’ 40 days traversing the ‘land in between’ that give shape to the season of Lent we celebrate. ‘The land in between’ also speaks powerfully to the reality of the world we traverse every day. Let me explain.

Christians are Sunday people living in a Saturday world, a time ‘in between’.

Easter is a Friday, Saturday and Sunday story. Friday, the day of the crucifixion, is the day of pain and suffering. By contrast, Sunday, resurrection day, is the day of joy and triumph. The day ‘in between’ – Saturday – is a day of doubt and confusion. Christians are Sunday people living in a Saturday world, a time ‘in between’. We know and have experienced the joy of Jesus’ resurrection, the vindication of his crucifixion, and we look forward to the day when we will experience our own resurrection. Meanwhile, we traverse this Saturday world, a world of doubt and confusion – of floods, fires, pandemics, wars and domestic violence. As we navigate this world, God is forming and shaping us as his people, at the same time inviting us to participate in his kingdom mission, a mission that will one day make all things new when Jesus comes again.

In this Saturday world, this ‘land in between’, through this season of Lent, I will seek to honour God through my usual spiritual disciplines of bible-reading, journaling, study and service. With a particular focus, I am dipping in again to the work of authors much, much wiser than me, like Fleming Rutledge and Jurgen Moltmann, whose reflections on the meaning and power of Jesus’ crucifixion move me to tears, leaving me lost in “wonder, love and praise”. It was Moltmann who said of Easter, “God weeps with us so that one day we may laugh with him.” In a Saturday world still filled with too many tears, this is good news indeed.

Every blessing,

Rev Stu Cameron
CEO and Superintendent, Wesley Mission

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