Tonight we'll be singing the hymn "Beneath the Cross of Jesus," and the tune will also feature prominently in the prelude. This hymn is among the most popular in the ELW, I would say, and most of us can sing the first verse from memory. What caught my eye on this sunny spring day, however, is this bit of text from verse 3:
I take, O Cross, they shadow
For my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face...
The warm weather has provided such a boost to my mood lately, and I see that energy shared among my students and colleagues. Meanwhile, flowers are poking their way up in my garden and the snow is finally gone. I've been gladly running outdoors on roads and trails, and even a simple walk across campus can bring a smile to my face. So this hymn's suggestion that sunshine is less important than the Cross is particularly powerful imagery right now!
I think there's a Sunday school exercise in such thoughts - Lent is better than...sunshine, chocolate, recess, reading, etc. (Feel free to contribute your own in the comments!) Perhaps that's a better motivation for the practice of giving something up - to remind us that there are better and more important things in our time on earth. That's a more hopeful perspective than simply to suffer and recall suffering. My campaign to make Lent cheerful continues, I suppose...is it a misguided, Quixotic adventure?