The season of Lent is a time often thought of as one of the darker times of the year.

In Western Washington it’s rainy and dreary. Yet the season and weather changes from winter to spring, from dreary to the sun breaking forth with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

As we begin we are reminded of our own mortality. Ash Wednesday we are marked with the sign of the cross and the words “it is from dust you came and to dust you shall return.” We receive the mark recognizing our own mortality. Knowing our time is limited on this side of eternity.

The gift of the dark and dreary, the gift of mortality is that it calls us to a deeper understanding of our need of God. We are moved to a deeper relationship with the One who was and is and is to come. We are called to understand more profoundly that each day is gift.

We are moved to celebrate this day, today. We are called to know that we live this and every day “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” (ELW 338).  The words illustrate our journey.  “Beginning with verse one; Beneath the cross of Jesus I long to take my stand; the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land, a home within a wilderness a rest upon the way, from the burning of the noontide heat and burdens of the day.” v2) “Upon the cross of Jesus, my eye at times can see the very dying form of one who suffered there for me.  And from my contrite heart, with tears, the wonders I confess: the wonders of his glorious love and my own unworthiness.”     v3) “I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding place; I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face; content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss, my sinful self my only shame, my glory all, the cross.”

The Lenten season asks us to reflect on our lives, and turn to God in a renewed way. It asks us to repent and reorient our lives towards the One who was and is and ever will be.

We are moved to know, in a new way, we are loved and cared for by God. And God holds us firmly and will never let us go (Isaiah 41:10, John 6:37). The One who gave his all for us, the One who came between you and righteous judgement. Jesus took it all, in love, on the cross.

In our failures and flaws, in our missing the mark, God holds you (firmly) and loves you unconditionally. God loves! We are justified as we live at the foot of the cross. We live under the One, who is love. We live under grace because we live at the foot of the cross.