Big Boxes... About to be Again

lent-2013-633x333 When I was young enough to understand free time as play time instead of more time to get things done, my friends and I frequently made clubhouses. The secret clubs we organized were exclusive; no girls were allowed. This was prior to Title IX and before we recognized girls were more interesting than each other.

To enhance our legitimacy and defend against the girls we imagined were desperate to join our clique, we constructed clubhouses from a variety of free and handy materials. Blankets were draped over bunk beds. Rusty playground equipment was imagined to be an ancient fortress. Closet doors were shut and inside flashlights illumined new heavens and new earth.

Every once in a while though, we salvaged a clubhouse construction product that was rare and valuable. They did not appear often, especially since we lived in apartment complexes with "vintage" appliances, but when they did show up, we raced to secure abandoned refrigerator boxes before the trash trucks carted them away.

To save their life from the adults with no imagination or respect for the autonomy of our clubs we hauled the boxes deep into the woods, camouflaged them with tree limbs, and immediately appointed a guard. From then on the single activity of the club was to guard the clubhouse from intruders. At night and during school hours we left the safety of our fortress in the hands of God.

As a parent, I now know that only God can protect the imaginations of children from the menace of adults intent on keeping things tidy. For orderly adults refrigerator boxes in the woods are not acceptable under any circumstance. The hand of God never betrayed us to this danger. However, God had a prior covenant with the trees that loaned their limbs to hide us during the day. Eventually it rained, and our clubhouse melted.

Somewhere in the Bible it says the Lord giveth and taketh away to giveth again I added the last part to make sense of our struggle. The only thing that softened the disappointment of our repeatedly deflated clubhouse was the activity of waiting and watching the trash bins for another refrigerator box to reappear. In truth, I think we all secretly relished the end of each clubhouse because it signaled the start of another season of waiting for the glorious moment when another big box showed up.

This is lent. A time reserved for waiting. The old has passed away, the new is not yet here. But we know it is coming. It is about to be again.

This is life when measured from the rear, behind Jesus. We travel towards the certainty of death acknowledging the gift that each step represents, tripping over our own clumsy steps, getting lost along the way, and holding on to the promise that there is another leg of the journey. While we desperately want to know what comes next, where we should wait for our big box, and when it will come, we cannot. New life is reserved for those who follow him into the grave to be swallowed up by the darkness of death. We can't keep our big boxes forever, the rain will come.

As kids with imaginations equivalent to God's abundance we knew that the big boxes would come and our clubhouse would be remade. During Lent we are invited to renew our appreciation for the fragility of life and our faith in the possibility that life will come again. Once more. It is about to be again.

Ash Wednesday

  • What: Three Teeny Tiny Concerts featuring sacred and modern music selected for the occasion followed by a brief service to include the imposition of ashes
  • When: February 13 at 5:30 (this concert is full), 7:00 and 8:30
  • Where: The Spot on Blanding
  • How: Space is limited to 45 registrants per concert. Register early, this will fill up.

Lent Book of the Year

  • What: Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright
  • When: Anytime. A moderated discussion is hosted through a Google Group
  • Where: The Internet and on your couch
  • How: Buy the book in worship on Sundays at the welcome table, pick up the reading plan or download it, and join the group


  • What: Brief early morning worship on Fridays during Lent with Communion and prayer as the focus. Pound for Pound Coffee and yummy pastries served afterwards
  • When: Fridays at 7:00, February 22 - March 22
  • Where: The Spot on Blanding
  • How: No registration or advance notice required. Just come.
  • Description: Right here.

Maundy Thursday

  • What: An intimate Holy Week communion service and interactive experience in a unique setting. Jesus' last meal with his disciples will be recreated around a table and served to small groups of 8-10.
  • When: Thursday March 28 from 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Where: MACK in Trenholm Plaza
  • How: No registration or advance notice required. Come with your crew and receive communion together.

Easter Worship

  • What: Two identical Sunday morning Easter worship services
  • When: March 31 at 9 and 11 a.m.
  • Where: 701 Whaley
  • How: Pick a time that works for you. Nursery will be available for both services.