“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Who really wants to talk about either? And here I go and start a blog post off with this quote?
I think it was bit unavoidable for this quote to come to my mind as March first sits firmly in a season for both. We are smack dab in the middle of tax season here in the U.S. and today, March 1st, begins the season of lent. Plus, I spend a lot of time seeking things that are “certain.”
This isn’t a post about taxes (sorry, I can’t help you out with that one). But it is a post about death. Well, death and new life.
Lent puts us face-to-face with death.
Many years as I celebrate Christmas my heart looks right towards Easter. Jesus, the greatest gift, was given to give his life for us. There are moments when it all seems so morbid, that while celebrating the birth of our savior I find myself looking to his death. It can be a part of Easter that I am eager to put aside as well… move past the mourning of the crucifixion and right into the joyous empty tomb of Easter dawning.
Lent, as Advent is for Christmas, serves as pause allowing my spirit and mind to focus and reflect as Easter draws near. And we start here on Ash Wednesdays thinking of death; yes, Christ’s death but more-so for me today the certainty of my own. Right here in this gloomy space is where the hope of 1 Thessalonians 3 meets me because as I face death (be it Christ’s, someone else’s, or my own) I do not need to mourn as those who have no hope. Why? Because in Christ death and taxes are not the only things that are “certain.”
No, we don’t mourn as those who have no hope; in fact, Christ’s death brings our greatest hope: new life.
Not the “hope” of new life implying something that we are wishing will happen. But through Christ we have the certainty of new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
He died that we might live. Galatians 2:20 says, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
On this first day of Lent, here on Ash Wednesday we think of death, Christ’s death and our own. Christ gave himself as a ransom for our sins and through the redemptive work of Christ we have new life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Daily we take our cross, daily we face our death and find new life in Christ. In death we find the hope of new life. God’s love for us and promise is that nothing… nothing in heaven or on earth… not even death itself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In him we are more than conquerors. Death has lost it’s sting.
As many Christians around the world celebrate the beginning of Lent through “a small cross on your forehead by smudging the ashes. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It’s a powerful, non-verbal way that we can experience God’s forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus.” We celebrate the certainty of life, new life in Christ.
My heart and mind are prone to distraction and wandering. This Lenten season I’ve started a devotion through YouVersion called “Lent Journey,” I’m taking the extra step to set a reminder so I’m less likely to forget! Also, over on Instagram I’m doing a #LentPhoto challenge. A friend suggested I check it out and you probably know I like photography and what better way to couple that with my time on social media to be more intentional in focusing on Christ?
As we journey to Easter in this season of Lent, do you have practices or traditions you’d like to share?