Getting our bearings

May the grace and peace of the Risen Lord be with you. He is risen, Alleluia! Alleluia! I trust these words find you well, blessed, and part of the Easter people celebrating our awesome and loving God. As an Easter people we will not just celebrate one day — we are about to begin a whole season of Easter from now until Pentecost Sunday on May 20. In that same period, life begins to accelerate with the Annual Pastoral Appeal, Confirmation (April 29), First Holy Communion (May 5 and 6), Mother’s Day, final exams, graduations, summer vacation and camp planning, getting ready for college, and a whole list of things around the home and office.

Life can be breathless. Sometimes we need to take a breath and see how far we have come. To ponder our successes, our failings, all the hurdles we jumped, disasters we dodged, and things that got accomplished. As strange as it might seem, the Easter Season can be a time to think about Lent. At the beginning of the classic refrain of Lent is “What are you giving up?” One parishioner who loves chocolate gave it up entirely for Lent. I asked, “Did that bring you closer to God?” The response was, “Not really. I just end up being cranky and miserable for all of Lent.” I am pretty sure that was not the hoped-for result. Within the tradition of prayer, alms giving, and fasting, there needs to be a path that makes room in your life for our God who is ever close to us.

So — we have journeyed through Lent and arrived at Easter — it is an important marker on the bigger journey of life. Back in the days before GPS, all naval vessels, even submarines, had to routinely “take a fix” to verify its location, to get our bearings. We knew where we intended to go, estimated we were halfway there (but still in the middle of the ocean), so we took out our navigation gear and “fixed” our position on the charts. In that way we measured our progress and had a chance to assess all the factors that might have taken us slightly off course, delayed us, or moved us ahead of schedule.

If the Lenten leg of the journey of faith was to make room in your life for God, what was the result? Are you closer to God? Did you make room for God? Did that “making room” result in some transformation or conversion large or small? Were you filled with God’s presence and shaped by God’s grace? We have journeyed through the mystery of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection in the celebration of Holy Week — and now He is risen.

I think a great Easter season question is this: “What began in Lent, will you continue to let it grow? And where is this all taking you?” Life with God in heaven is the answer in the long term, but it strikes me that a nearer term goal might be centered in the way we look at all this. If Lent was the period in which we “made room for God,” I would suggest that the next segment of this transformation is “we should make God the room.”

What I mean by this is that God should be not merely the reference point but the whole context out of which we operate. God is not merely the source of our existence, he is the substance of our existence, the very life we have, and without God we would be lifeless, even if we are alive. Put another way, if Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

So, it is time to break out the navigation charts, get our bearings, and plot a course in life so that Jesus is indeed Lord of All.

Happy Easter.

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