Lent is fast approaching. I’ve always liked the idea of seasons in the church, times of reflection to focus on different aspects of God. The idea of Lent is something I’ve always found interesting; I’ve even written a devotional for it. But this year, as I’ve been thinking about Lent, I’m having a hard time with aspects of it.
I love the symbology of the ashes that are used during Ash Wednesday services. Ashes remind us of several things:
Ashes remind us that we are created. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Gen. 2:7
Ashes remind us of our fallen nature and our need to repent. “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees Thee; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6
Ashes remind us of what Easter is all about. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Heb. 9:13-14
Ashes remind us that Christ, through His death, burial, and resurrection, has set us free from the bondage of sin and has given us “beauty for ashes.”
It’s the other aspect of Lent that I’m having a hard time with – “Traditionally, Lent is a somber time of preparation, a time of self-denial…”
Lent is a time to prepare our hearts for Easter. Easter is about God seeking us out. Easter is a time of great joy, but… it is also a very somber time. The Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal, the trial, the condemnation, the death on the cross, Jesus bearing the wrath of God for our sins, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Mark 15:34, the burial, the tomb, the darkness, the despair… yes a very somber time.
Maybe that’s why we feel the need to be somber in preparation for Easter – maybe that’s why we feel we need to give up something for Lent? Maybe…
Maybe we want to feel good about ourselves, feel like we’ve done something to earn the forgiveness, the love, we’ve received? Maybe…
Maybe we’ve forgotten, maybe we don’t remember – maybe we think it’s up to us? Maybe…
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. ~ Romans 5:6-11
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. ~ 1Peter 1:3
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
“The good news is that Christ frees us from the need to obnoxiously focus on our goodness, our commitment, and our correctness. Religion has made us obsessive almost beyond endurance. Jesus invited us to a dance…and we’ve turned it into a march of soldiers, always checking to see if we’re doing it right and are in step and in line with the other soldiers. We know a dance would be more fun, but we believe we must go through hell to get to heaven, so we keep marching.” ~ Steve Brown
by Tami Munden