We begin Lent with Ash Wednesday, where we “re-member” that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. As we move into Holy Week, Jesus instructs us to do this in “re-membrance” of him, and then he brings us through the weekend to “re-surrection.”
The RE prefix in the Latin language has a profound impact on the words that we use. It means “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion. But it’s such a familiar and benign little piece of vocabulary, that we don’t pay attention to it, unless we make the effort to look closer. But this little prefix can completely change the meaning of an existing word. It brings emphasis to words when we’ve stopped paying attention. And it has profound theological implications. We are born out a tradition founded in the concept of “re-formation.” Our presbyterian motto is “reformed and always reforming:” it’s built into our identity.
This Lenten season, I invite you to re-visit— or, re-examine—the various RE words that play into our faith and the way we live them out. Let us re-flect on the things that are worth holding onto (re-taining), and the things that we need to let go of (re-lease).
The words that we will focus on throughout the scripture texts will have us seeking to re-sist the temptation to do what is easy, instead of what is right; to wrestle with what it means to be spiritually re-born; to re-imagine the kingdom of God; to have our eyes opened and see what God is re-vealing in our lives; to feel dead, like Lazarus was, and to be re-stored to the world of the living; to heed Jesus’ call for re-form in our society and institutions; to re-member everything that Jesus taught us, to re-linquish as Jesus did on the cross, and then to know true re-surrection in our lives.
Let us journey together in this season of re-flection and re-newal.