I love The Lord of the Rings. The books are a literary treasure and the movies are cinematic genius. If you know the story, Hobbits, Elves and humans inhabit a place called Middle Earth--a somewhat dangerous and difficult place filled with treachery and beauty all at the same time.
A lot, strangely, like the world we inhabit.
For many of us, we look at the past and know that it contains both pain and joy--for many of us, more of the former than the latter. And we look at the future and are filled with either hope or fear and uncertainty--for many of us, more of the latter than the former. We are, as JRR Tolkien so ably described, in Middle Earth. We realize it's where we are and we often find it very difficult to navigate.
The shift from the present to the future leaves many of us caught in the middle with unending feelings about the future flourishing of our lives and overwhelmed by the changes that need to take place to see it happen in a good way. Yet, in the middle of it all, Jesus' message and presence is with us. In fact, as we walk through Lent, we look forward to the Resurrection--a sign and reality from God that all will be well.
Full Disclosure: The idea for this post is an adaptation of an article in The Communicator, a regular newsletter for pastors published by these people.