I did not grow up with the liturgical calendar but find balance and comfort in it. Through the church seasons I experience the whole story of God’s redemptive plan in Jesus Christ and not just random little sound bites. Lent provides a season within the year that provides a touchstone to keep me grounded in Christ.
Lent is hard to define. It has no gift wrap, Santa or bunnies but is a true internal journey with the Christ through these 40 days (plus the Sunday’s). You must define it for yourself. Somehow lent can better be defined by what it isn’t.
Lent isn’t a holiday: Lent is a season of preparation and not a single day of commemoration. Certainly it is intimately tied to the resurrection at Easter and a rite for those being baptized but it also stands as its own event. Lent follows us in all of life’s “desert” times and not just in the spring.
Lent isn’t about death: the season begins with “Ash Wednesday” and the the touch of ashes with the words, “it is from dust you came and to dust you must return”. The United Methodists also use, “repent and believe the Gospel”. Both responses invite us to look at our ultimate end from where we are. This is not a focus on dying but a gaze at the Grace at work in our living!
Lent isn’t a church service: like all of the Christian faith, Lent is organized as a community event but is starkly and even harshly personal. “Lent” is not found in the Bible but the spirit of the journey pops up everywhere in the Gospels-especially in Jesus own witness. The point of the Lenten desert is to awaken our souls as Gods alone. Alone-ness is scary. Lent is for the brave disciple regardless of age or faith-experience.
Lent isn’t about guilt: in the old prayer book we were invited to “earnestly repent” the “manifold sins and wickedness”. Contrition is rather out of fashion. Lent invites us to to explore our sin, certainly to be sorry, but more to grow in the strength of the super abundant forgiveness provided to us. Repentance crushes guilt by turning away from it through God’s forgiveness and toward growth in our faith in Christ.
Lent isn’t a giving up of the things you love: Lent is about growing in faith through deferring pleasure for a season. One spiritual tool is “giving something up”. The point is NOT what you give up but by using those things to provide a time and a reminder to deepen our faith relationship with God. Don’t give up, give out. Do things that deepen faith by not doing things that can distract you from faith.
The list goes on as you make your own discoveries. Lent is your journey. God is prepared to meet you where you are and journey with you to the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Journey well. The Christ will meet you there.
You are invited to an Ash Wednesday service on February 10, 2016 at 6:30 pm, and worship with us through Easter. Click here for more information on our website