“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15
In college, one of the most frustrating tests I ever had was identifying twenty-something frog calls. Carpenter frogs, Bull Frogs, Leopard Frog, Pacific Tree Frog, and several more I’ve forgotten with time.
Though my favorite frog identification on the test was the easiest to identify, the Spring Peeper. Spring Peepers sound like a clutch of newly hatched chicks with excitement and joy in their little voices. Each year, I eagerly await my first hearing of the Peepers, as a promise that Spring is just around the corner.
Something within me relates to Spring Peepers. As soon as I feel the warmth of the Spring sun, I too want to yell with joy and tell the world around me how excited I am.
This year, at an Ash Wednesday service, I walked out to my car to retrieve the ashes I had forgotten on my first trip into the sanctuary. As I popped open my trunk and grabbed the mason jar of grey palm ashes, I heard them. Faint in the distance, peep peep peep. I was immediately struck with a sense of contradiction, holding in my hand a symbol of renunciation, entering into Lent, while the world around me is celebrating Spring and new life. This sound my ears look forward to each year, at the same moment we are invited into the Lenten discipline.
That contradicting feeling isn’t new for us as Christians, especially in the past few years. At times it’s like Lent 2020 never really ended, like I haven’t really lived like I did in 2019. Today, we hear and see destruction dominating our news feeds and radios. And yet, each year at the closure of Lent, we celebrate the resurrection, we declare and believe that Christ is risen and Christ will come again. That feeling of contradiction isn’t easy for me to wrestle with. For many, it leaves us feeling exhausted, constantly holding these ideas in tension.
Let us believe now, that within the unlevel feeling of contradiction, there is faith. That without faithfulness, there wouldn’t be contradiction, would there? Without being faithful living into the contradiction, we would be left with only that sorrow that destruction brings. So as Romans tells us, let us rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. May we also be gentle with ourselves as we stand in the contradiction with faithful hearts.
Lord, may we do as Romans tells us, let us rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. May we also be gentle with ourselves as we stand in the contradiction with faithful hearts. Amen
Elizabeth Villegas is the pastor of the North Gates and Gatesville Charges