Lent leads us into both reflection and expectation. Even as we honor our histories and our ancestries, with all their gifts and their griefs, we anticipate the ways that resurrection can recreate them–and us. The God who inspired “something old” is still at work, bringing Easter ever nearer, promising and fulfilling “something new” for the world.

Monday, Feb. 8, 2016
(Lent 1, 2/14/16)

Deut. 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2 (9-16)
2 Cor. 5:20b-6:10
Luke 4:1-13

“You shall make this response before the Lord your God: ‘A wandering Aramean was my ancestor…'” (Deut. 26:5)

The story of Lent is like “The House that Jack Built”: without Joseph’s multicolored coat, there would have been no Egypt. Without Egypt, no slavery. Without slavery, no Passover (and without Passover, no freedom). Without freedom, no wandering, no wilderness. Without wandering, no arrival; and without arrival, no land of promise. Without the land, no Bethlehem and no Jerusalem. Jerusalem! Without Jerusalem–without its temple, without its traditions, without its trials–no Jesus. No palm-laden road, no upper room, no rugged cross, no stone to roll away.

On the road to Easter, we dare not forget to tell the story of Lent.

Story is the magnetic pull between old and new, drawing us forward through remembrance and into thanksgiving. Story is the first (and perhaps the only) liturgy; whenever we speak our story aloud it becomes our worship, our prayer, our songs of pain and praise. Story is the flesh and blood of tradition. Without story, traditions turn lifeless. Without story, traditions turn into idols.

Story is the commandment of Yahweh.

Even before the wandering people of God reached the land that God had promised to them, God was already giving them instructions for telling the story and giving offerings of thanks. When they finally reached the land, there would be no excuse for forgetfulness. God prompted them to remember their story–THIS story–all along the way. God has shown them a spoiler: their story doesn’t end with entry into the land! They will not only reach the land, but they will settle there, they will sow and reap, they will experience abundance!

Then they will take their story to the priest, bundle the first fruits of the promise into baskets to set before the altar, gather around God’s house and declare: We have come into the land! And they will tell God the story–God’s own story. They will not forget their wandering ancestor, the slavery, the freedom, the wilderness, the promise, the bounty.

Lent isn’t usually a season of bounty and celebration; typically Lent reminds us how important it is to lean into fasting and reflection, into emptiness and preparation. We begin this long, wild wander toward promise, remembering our own roaming ancestors, the slavery we still ache to escape, the freedom we have tasted, the wilderness we travel, the promise of new life, the bounty of Home.

We will tell this story every step of the way toward celebration. We will not forget.

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.