Today is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of the season of Lent. The period of Lent (or Lenten), a Christian tradition that marks the 40 years that Israelites spent in the wilderness, or the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, lasts this year from Feb. 18 to April 2, 2015. In this season millions of Christians observe a season of reflection leading up to Easter. It is a season to examine ourselves, our sin and our mortality, and because of those things our need for a savior. You can find more about both Lent here.
In years past I have given up something that is a pleasure to me like chocolate or shrimp or chocolate covered shrimp, mmmm! (Oddly enough tomorrow is National Mint Chocolate Day, se ems like terrible planning) I do not abstain from those things to show my extra super duper love for God or to try and earn “special heavenly attention.” I simply want to focus on my need for Christ and Christ Himself more intently. This is our hope and our desire for those that observe this season. These observances are not sacraments and we are not commanded by the authority of scripture to participate. Either way I wonder if this season leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday would be a great time for us in some way to reflect deeply on our faith and our desire for Christ.
40 Days and the Weight of Glory
About this time 2000 years ago Jesus was fully involved in His ministry and he was heading to the cross. He knows what almost no one around Him knows, that He is about to lay His life down for the world. He was healing, feeding and preaching and He was about to give up all He was to become our sin, to become our unrighteousness so that we would become His righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21) What was getting ready to happen to Him was horrible, terrible and unthinkable. Our reaction in shock would be to quickly look away. But what if we don’t? What if we don’t fear the pain and tragedy of this season so that we can know the full weight of the glory that comes next? What if we deal with our fear, sin and our mortality and the life to come in this season?
A Season of Reflection
In this season don’t look away from what Jesus did and don’t look away from your own sin, or mortality, look at it and repent. Look to the transforming work of the Gospel to redeem our brokenness. Even if we don’t know how to believe God, let’s cry out to God “help my unbelief!” What area of our lives do we need to find repentance in? Let us turn to the transforming work of the Gospel and believe God’s promises for our lives. Believe in what Jesus has done for you, and accept His work on the cross a being done for you.
Let’s embrace the cross and the tomb over the next 40 days and their endless implications in our lives. We should embrace them because we know what is coming. Joseph Campbell once said “the treasure you seek is in the cave you fear to enter.” Go to the cross and look at what price your sin had, enter the tomb and sit on the slab where the God of the universe lay dead for you. It can have a saving effect on us.
Here are a couple resources to assist you if you are considering observing Lent;
Journey to the Cross is a free devotional guide for the season of Lent by by Haug and Walker. Each week has a focus or theme (e.g., repentance, humility, suffering, lament, sacrifice, death. Each day also follows a pattern with elements like: Call to Worship, Confession, Contemplation, and Closing Prayer. “Lent is about Jesus,” the authors contend, and with each element “our aim is to reflect meaningfully on his journey to the cross, so that we might take up our cross and follow him.” (resource link through TGC)