I think some of the happiest words we, as members of this congregation, can read on the back of our Sunday worship bulletin (twice a year – once in the fall and once is the spring) are the words, “Rummage is now being accepted!” What this announcement means, on the surface, is that the O.C.C. Women are getting ready again for their twice a year Rummage and Attic Treasure Sale. We know that these sales are a lot of work for a lot of people, taking many hours of effort and organization. And we know that the money raised goes to support important mission projects. But the underlying reason that I have for looking forward to seeing those words is that they mean I can get rid of some of the “stuff” that has been taking up room at the back of my closet! My guess is that I’m not alone in this. I have clothes that I no longer wear, kitchen utensils that I never use, books that I have already read, and an assortment of things that maybe once meant something to me but don’t any longer. I want these things out of my house – out of my way. I gain a real sense of satisfaction by pulling up to the lower level doors and leaving those bags and boxes on the gathering table. I don’t have to maneuver around those things anymore! Our O.C.C. women offer me a wonderful opportunity. They invite me to do the sorting and cleaning that I know I need to do if I am ever going to have space for anything else.
The celebration of Easter feels a little like this to me. The season of Lent is like the announcement in the bulletin that proclaims “It’s time to clean out! It’s time to sort through! It’s time to get rid of what doesn’t work for you any more!”
Each year we get that chance. We get to rid ourselves of attitudes and behaviors that just don’t belong in the houses that are our lives. Without this yearly event, you and I could well find ourselves accumulating all sorts of “stuff” we no longer want or need – shortcomings and failures, sorrow and disappointments, bitterness, fear, anger, isolation – dead-ends. Through the truth of the good news of Christ’s overcoming of death, we know that we no longer have any use for these things. They simply no longer “fit” us and there is no reason they should be allowed to take up space in our lives.
My hope is that you’ve used these weeks of Lent to your benefit – that you’ve prayed and reflected and allowed God’s Holy Spirit to do some work in you. There are some powerful things the Spirit offers, among them healing and freedom and joy and, especially, peace. God never imposes these things on us or tries to crowd them into the places in our lives where other things are still taking up most of the room. We can accept what God offers or not, but God never stops offering.
So, it’s not too late. Our yearly celebration of Christ’s resurrection will be on Easter morning, of course, but the work of the Holy Spirit to bring harmony out of discord, hope out of despair, forgiveness out of defiance, and new life to even the deadliest of human predicaments – that power is available to us each and every morning.
Newness of life surrounds us. That is God’s doing. May we be the ones who are courageous enough to make room for it and then may we give God our thanks.