Strengthening sunshine and still cool temperatures have a way of pulling people out of doors, evaluating the landscape. Frost still seems to have a grip on the soil, with some ice patches hiding underneath hedges and shaded areas around the house. Ice storms followed by wind, pruned the sycamores and cedar trees dropped evergreen branches turned brown. Leaves were tangled in the undergrowth, tucked against walls, hidden underneath shrubs and swirled in corners hard to reach.  A strong raking gathered the debris into piles picked up and placed in disposable paper bags. Dust kicked up as the prongs stroked the lawn, and smells of dirt filled the air. The grass is showing traces of green. Buds on the ends of branch tips are beginning to appear. There is something hopeful about that first spring rake. Our season of lent has similarities to that first rake. We are encouraged to examine our old selves, pressing hard against the realities of our lives. Only we know our personal sexual immorality, our impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. They are residues of our old life, from which Jesus has come to rescue us, deliver us and redeem. Only we know how deep-seated our anger, rage and slander is buried underneath the frozen ground, tucked against the inner recesses of our heart. A good Lenten raking not only invites us to recognize and acknowledge these attitudes from within, but also to pick them up in piles and get rid of them in disposable brown paper bags. They too can go out with the garbage, and Jesus specializes in garbage collection. The good news of the gospel is that our lives have been transformed and there is new growth developing from within, a new self being formed; new habits, changed attitudes and renewed actions of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience set to bud and blossom in the center of our being. Yes, Spring is well on its way and in the middle of Spring is the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. But don’t miss out on the good raking, giving new growth the greatest opportunity to flourish.                                                                                                                                                Pastor Sid

Karin Terpstra