Looking past token restrictions

March 2018 · Ministry News

This Lent, we’re sharing a series of weekly reflections provided by members of The Saint Francis Foundation’s Church Relations team. The Rev. Benjamin Thomas, Th.D., has written a few thoughts for this Friday.

The breakers of death rolled over me, and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.


I recently heard Graham Cray, a bishop of the Church of England speak about “Fresh Expressions” in his Church. Fresh Expressions are spiritual communities that grow up outside of traditional church structures, and Bishop Cray mentioned how the various Fresh Expressions were unique to their place of origin. The group of first-time moms in a middle class suburb was rather different from the dinner group meeting in an economically depressed city.

When asked if these communities had anything in common or if they were all basically shaped by their environment, the bishop said that all these communities finally gave people the same thing—the hope that their lives could be better and more purposeful.


The season of Lent—penitence, fasting, solemnity and all the rest—is ultimately about looking past the temporary restrictions of life to the hope that is found in Christ. Our expressions of Lent vary from place to place, but the discipline of living with temporarily restrictions is a way of looking forward to the time when those limitations are lifted.

Looking past these token restrictions of Lent to the joy of Easter reminds us that God hears our cries and that the most important restriction on our life, death, will be lifted on the last, great Easter. On that day, God will undo the fleeting nature of human life, and everything we have done will be placed in the eternal perspective of God’s love which preserves every good thing from this life for the next.


The breakers of death rolled over me,

and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.

The cords of hell entangled me,

and the snares of death were set for me.

I called upon the Lord in my distress

and cried out to my God for help.

He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling;

my cry of anguish came to his ears.    —Psalm 18:4-7