Lent starts tomorrow. Do you have a special way of observing this time of the church calendar? I would love to know about how you observe this season.
I come from a tradition that observes Lent – Wednesday services, special scripture readings, hymns of the season sung in a slow dirge, crosses covered by black cloths. Meaningful stuff! Symbols of an inward reflection on our need for a Savior. A time of seriously recognizing why we need Easter.
For my husband and millions of others, it is a time of sacrifice to help them relate to Jesus and what he went through in his suffering. There is the process of giving up something of enjoyment in order to replace it with a time of prayer and reflection. Ashes, fasting, again, a recognition of the need to prepare for Easter. Yes, it is somber, but beautiful.
Now I go to a different kind of church than where I grew up. And the tradition of Lent is not the same. I love my new church home. I love the church home where I grew up. But I’m on my own to decide about how to do with this Lent season.
I’m seeing more in the concepts of Lent than I have before. I’m realizing that Lent is not an isolated 40 days where I am obligated to look at the ugliness of how sin has driven me to need my Savior. I need to remember that every day!
But it is so good for me to remember that my Savior wasn’t a gift lightly given – it was an act of profound love for me.
A little time in the Gospel of John, chapter one, really is for me the beginning of a study on Lent:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
The Word, Jesus, He was already God. He didn’t need to go through limiting Himself to human form, persecution, suffering, conquering sin and rising from the dead to mature Himself. It wasn’t some sort of searching for His identity or figuring out His calling.
He already was God! The only reason to humble Himself was to save those He loved – like you and me. The only reason.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:11-12)
To have God look at me and say I was worth that sacrifice is amazing – talk about the source of knowing I have value! My Jesus died for me. Not just died, suffered! And conquered sin and death.
And now, I have the right to be a child of God. Wow! How could I ever deny my value as a human knowing that He would do that for me?
Knowing He loved me that much, I am shamed by my need for sacrifice. I know the need was profound. Its true. I don’t deny it. I needed to be died for because I am soaked in the sin of this fallen world.
I step into sin without realizing it. Pride sprouts out of what I thought was just excitement for an idea. Selfishness arises from what I think is a desire to help someone else. I think I am doing good, only to find I hurt others. I don’t even realize my motives are self-focused until I’m up to my knees in filthy, muddy, yucky sewer water of selfishness. I’m too quick to point out whatever I see wrong in someone else’s life, without acknowleding my countless sins.
I am, without a doubt, unworthy of being saved,. Unworthy of being the beneficiary of the sacrifice of the Word.
But here I am, a child of the Word, guarenteed safe passage into the presence of the King. I have a future of being perfected. I have hope.
Preparing my heart to give thanks for my salvation – that will be my focus for this season of Lent.