The Christian Season of Lent for 2018 begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14 and lasts until Holy Saturday on March 31. There are 40 days in the season not counting Sundays. The early Church considered it improper to do any penance or fasting on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) because each Sunday is a celebration of the Lord’s resurrection and therefore a day of feasting and celebration. The season remembers to us the sacrifice of Jesus as he journeyed toward the cross and calls us to, in some meaningful way, participate in that journey. During the season of Lent, we are called to self-examination and to deep reflection on our relationship with God.
Lent does not have the mass appeal or media coverage of Christmas or Easter. It is a quiet time, a somber time, a time to look inward and assess where we are in our relationship with God. It is a time to study God’s word and spend extra time in prayer. The Lenten season ticks by wholly unnoticed by the secular world and is punctuated only by the observances of Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. But the season of Lent offers special privilege to those who embrace the depth of it. It is no less than an opportunity for us in a small way to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Jesus. It is a personal journey with Jesus, a time for us to grow and learn and seek to deepen our faith. It is also a community journey for the church as we mark the seminal days of the season together from Ash Wednesday through Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday right up to Easter morning.
Jesus encouraged his followers to give, pray and fast in secret so that their faith did not become a source of pride, but a way to grow closer to God. Jesus challenged, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from you Father in heaven.” Instead we are called to serve, pray and fast in secret “and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6) Lent is a wonderful time to put Jesus’ words into practice. I encourage you to take the time and immerse yourself fully in the spirit of the season of Lent, marking the days together as a church while growing in your personal relationship with God. It truly is a blessed time and a gift from God who desires nothing more than a closer walk with you.
In a world rife with so much noise and busy-ness, a quiet walk through the season of Lent with Jesus can be a welcome respite for the weary soul. It takes intention and discipline but the rewards are truly worth the undertaking. At the end of the Lenten journey you may realize a greater sense of God’s presence in your life, experience a peace in your spirit that was missing or find a new sense of purpose that was lacking before. At the least, your relationship with God and your understanding of God’s love for you will grow stronger as you meditate upon what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. I hope for you a wonderful journey through Lent and a knowledge of God’s great love for you each and every day.
Peace to you,