Last fall, I planted some tulip bulbs here and up at my brothers. I am anticipating that I will see them begin to poke up in the next few weeks. It would be easy to think that the bulbs are doing nothing all winter. But, things are happening. They are waiting for the water from the melting snow to seep down, for the earth to unfreeze, and the warmth of the sun to warm the earth and help it begin to grow. Think of what is happening as it begins to poke its head out of the ground. The tulip needs to push its way up from the ground; then once its stalk comes through, it forms a blossom and the world is changed by its beauty. Our life in Christ is like the tulip bulb. Sometimes it looks like nothing is going on; but then there are times when we see our faith bearing fruit. At times, the hard soil of our hearts needs to be broken up by the gentle warmth of God’s presence or the dew of the Holy Spirit. This gentle warmth is grace. We cannot bear fruit if we think we are the gardeners; God is the one who has planted the seed of faith within us and only with God can the seed of faith grow in us. Our life of discipleship is a constant dying and rising, of planting and harvesting, of forgiveness and joy. The life of faith needs to be lived even when it appears that nothing is happening. Our faith sustains us when we feel cold and apart from God or it seems like God is silent. This is the time when it is most important to be people of faith. We are called to remain faithful even when it looks like winter and nothing is growing, and it is dark and cold …. remember the tulip bulb and the seed in the ground…it is alive and will blossom one day. Our life in Christ means that we embrace the cross: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.” Like the seed struggles to grow; like the bulb has to work to break out of the ground; so must we. No one wants the Cross; but, it is real. Life has its struggles and challenges, but with the Cross ever before us, we will never be defeated. The Cross is the promise fulfilled. The Cross is the sign of the Seed of Life that went into the ground and rose triumphant from the grave. The Cross is scandal to the world; but, to us it is the victory and the full blossom of God’s love for all people. It is through the Cross that the law of Christ is written on our hearts. The Cross is Love; the Law of God is Love; it is Love that blossoms from our hearts into the world. As we begin this Fifth Week of Lent, may we allow Christ to plant his love in our hearts and allow it to bloom with the flowers of peace and justice. May we rise from the darkness of doubt and sin and know the light and warmth of God.