Lent: the season everyone loves to hate.
I don’t like Lent but I used to like it less.
Ash Wednesday comes this week, the first day of the season of Lent. It is meant to be a refining season, a sobering season. On Wednesday, followers of Jesus all around the world will place ash on their forehead and listen to the words spoken over them:
“For dust you are and to dust you shall return.”
It’s hard to feel good about that.
Lent concludes with Holy Week. We get to follow Jesus through his final moments, those brutal moments when we see humanity at its worst, spewing hatred out of our mouths, crying:
“Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!”
Crucify the one innocent among us.
It’s hard to feel good about that either.
And then there’s the forty days between. Forty days to wrestle with our indulgent appetites, our selfish longings, our malicious intents. We get forty days to let the worst in us be revealed and confronted.
I mean, come on…who could like Lent?!?
I cannot say that I look forward to Lent. I’m not that holy yet. But, through the journey of Lent, there will be grain to reap and fruit to pick. The refining nature of this season does create something within us or at least it makes us aware of what was there all along.
The culture and consciousness that most of us live in is one of satiation. We long to be full. Full of food, full of entertainment, full of money. Much of our effort in life is spent on attaining in order to be filled, all in hopes of being satiated. The sobering reality of this is that once we are satiated, if indeed we ever are, we only find ourselves numb.
Numb. Is that really how we want to be?
Lent pushes back against this numbness. One of the arrows in the quiver of Lent strikes right at the heart of this numbness. It tells us, stop the vicious cycle of satiation and numbness and feel. Feel hunger. Feel emptiness. Feel longing. Feel something!
Ultimately, Lent allows us to see how desperate we really are. You, me, this world. We are not complete. We have not arrived. We are lacking and we get to feel that.
What are we lacking? Thankfully, we find the answer at the end of Lent in the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.
Until then, I invite you to prayerfully consider how you should journey through the season of Lent and I invite you to join with us as one church family as we pray together through this simple prayer guide.