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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Greg's Weekly Word: "passion"

Same word.

Two meanings.

Something like this...

Or something like this...

Passion can mean both: a burning desire or deep, barely-controllable love...or suffering, and specifically Christ's suffering on the cross. The word comes from a Latin root (pati) that literally means "to undergo" or "to endure." And the season of Lent - beginning on Ash Wednesday, going for 40 days (6 weeks, not including Sundays, which would take an entire blog post to explain), and ending with the cross and tomb of Good Friday and Holy Saturday - is a season which brings together these two meanings of passion.

On the one hand, we journey with Jesus toward his passion (i.e. suffering) on the cross. In doing so, we confront our own mortality, the suffering of our humanity, and the pain we cause God and ourselves and others through our wrongdoings and shortcomings.

Which is why Lent is also a season of reflection and repentance. During these 40 days, we examine ourselves and our lives. In doing so, we hope to find a deeper devotion to and passion (i.e. desire) for God, renewing our commitment to the way of Christ.

Of course, love and suffering are not only joined in this season, but in every season of life. When we love, we leave ourselves vulnerable to be hurt. Put differently, the extent to which we love is the extent to which we can suffer because of that love. And as followers of the One who suffered with us and for us and from us to show us the depth of God's love, we too are called to love...and therefore, to open ourselves up to the possibility of pain.

Author Madeleine L'Engle, reflecting on Lent, and on the song whose chorus goes, 'And they'll know we are Christians by our love...' asks, Will they?

Are we wounded enough to be recognized as Christians?

In other words, have we loved deeply and broadly enough that we have been willing to be hurt for the sake of that love? As Christ was?

That kind of passion is the purpose and the challenge of Lent. And if we will take it up, then by the time we get to Easter morning, perhaps we, too, will be recognized as Christians... By our wounds, maybe. But most importantly, by our love - for God, and for one another.


P.S. Join us for our Lenten worship series, "Responding to Pain," as we explore the different ways to respond to suffering, and how we may discover a deeper love for Christ (and the depth of God's love for us!) in them. Sunday mornings at 10:30 am, either in-person in the sanctuary, or live on Facebook.

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