There is a great story that I heard the Rev. John Claypool, an Episcopal priest from Texas, tell a few years back about a lion who though he was a goat. It didn’t start out that way. The young lion cub was born into this world and very shortly after his birth, his mother died. It was an accident but the young lion cub found himself alone in the world. As he sat there in the field a few paces from his mother’s body, he sat and cried. Passing by was a herd of goats who heard the sad tones of the cub and they came to check things out. And in the kindness and compassion that is in the world the herd looked on the sight of this pitiful creature and decided that they would invite the cub to come and join the herd. And the cub willingly went along. As time pass there were changes in the cub as he grew: massive muscles and bones, large teeth and a very swishy tail. Yet he also took on all the qualities of “goatness” and became one of them bleating, jumping and playing and chew on grass and bushes.
One day the King of the Lions was passing through that part of the world and he happen upon this goat herd with its young lion in tow. The king moved in to see this sight and when his presence was realized the heard scattered, leaving the lion cub to bleat nervously and continue to chew on a blade of grass. The King called to the cub and took him to the river. The King fed the cub lion food and then took him to the river and showed him his reflection in the water. And he looked at himself he then saw the reflection of the King there beside him. The King said to the cub, “I am sorry about what happened to you. And what happened was an accident and getting involved with the goats was a mistake. Come with me now and become the grand creature you already are.”
There is a lot about animals in this week’s reading and so I thought fitting to use this story to help us reflect on where we are with God and with ourselves as we begin another Lent. But if there is one thing that I would reflect for you in this moment, it is that we are to be who we are, as we have been created in Christ. There things we want to give up. There are things that we are persisting in prayer to God about. There are things that we can give and offer to others and to God as an offering, as gifts, and as a sacrifice. So maybe we need to consider carefully this Lent how we live everyday in Christ as baptised people. This examination is not just for Lent, but for everyday walking. Where is the Kingdom of God lived in your life and in the life of your family? Lent is an opportunity to reorder our lives and bring them into line with what God asks and demands of us. After all, as Martin Luther might remind us, baptism “takes only a few minutes to do and a lifetime to finish.”
So maybe this Lent is as much about endings and beginnings as the story about lion cub would suggest. The end of things shows that we like the lion cub recognize that there is something new and real that is taking place, in the light of the new relationship that is his with the King. There are things that are beginning to take shape and that has cause something that have been, like the life that had been lived with the herd will now become life with the King and his pride, his family. And both are happening all at the same time.
So take some time to go to the river this Lent, to look in the river and to see both your reflection and then the King’s, that you may become more and more his and that life spring eternal from what he offers you to eat and to drink.