Lent in Pieces

You may have heard a click or a clack during the Sunday morning Children’s Moment. It always amazes me how the sound of wood on stone echoes in the Sanctuary and can grab the attention of almost any child. 

cross RSAlthough it makes a great sound, the objects are not particularly impressive, just a simple wooden puzzle. It has seven distinct shapes. One side is a royal purple, rough to the touch. The other is a smooth lacquered white. When the pieces come together they form a cross. Some of our students recognize the shapes immediately while others are still trying to figure out what the shapes will make. 

We describe Lent as a mystery and as a journey. During this season we follow Jesus to Jerusalem. Each stop gives us a new piece of the puzzle. Sometimes we can see its final shape, and sometimes we struggle to understand how it all fits together.

When I retell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, children dig into the text and ask questions like, “What does crucify mean?” “Why did Judas hurt Jesus?” “Why couldn’t the disciples stay awake?” “Do you think Mary cried when she saw Jesus on the cross?” I hear these faithful questions, and I see new pieces of the puzzle, new steps in our common journey. Their questions shape the way I see Lent each year. They open my eyes to the mystery of this story. They steal away its familiarity, and I am blessed to join them on the journey again. 

In January and February, I had the privilege of working with Rebecca Kirkpatrick, Lindsay Johnson and Bonnie Atwood to create paraments for the chapel. The design was challenging. Unlike traditional quilts that follow exact patterns, this one did not. Laying out the stacks of squares and half triangles was a labor of love. Just looking at all the pieces, I had no sense of what the final project would be. When they were finally placed in the chapel on Ash Wednesday, they became something new, something complete and beyond what I could have imagined when I was just laying out the squares. 

piecesLent is a mystery. Jesus’ life pointed to the cross, but I am sure that if I had been one of the disciples, I would have missed it, blinded by the miracles and the power, unsure of what all the pieces were forming. Lent is a journey. Each step helps us better understand who Jesus is and who we are called to be. The individual pieces start to take shape, and we have the opportunity to see God’s vision as a whole. 

On Easter, we’ll still have the puzzle, but instead of looking at the rough purple pieces, we will flip it over and see the lacquered white, the cross changed by the resurrection. It’s still a few weeks away, but the pieces are there, if we pay attention.