This week marks the halfway point on our journey with Christ through the season of Lent. Our journey began on Ash Wednesday with the acknowledgement of our human frailty and bend towards sin. In the reality of these truths it is often our practice during this season to repent and seek rejuvenation to the way that God created us to be. By denying our lives of the things that glorify us, we can turn to and focus on glorifying God. This alone will open up many opportunities for us to go deeper in our faith and life of discipleship. When we limit the many distractions that can pull us away from communing with God, we are able to be more attentive to the work and movement of the Holy Spirit. We can also find that there are many extra things we add to our lives and carry with us that are not necessary to live life as God intended. By giving up what is extra we can attend to what is necessary as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Being vigilant and reverent during Lent is also important so that we are fully prepared for Easter morning. In contrast to other important days in the Church’s liturgical calendar, there is not much public preparation for what happens on Easter. In contrast, it is almost impossible not to be publically prepared for Christmas. This is because of the way that the world around us floods every part our lives marketing a day of celebration at the end of December. We travel to be with friends and family, we buy presents by the carload, and feasts are had aplenty. For almost two months the world around us overwhelms our eyes and ears with advertisements on television, secular music on the radio, and a summons to malls and shopping centers. I sometimes wonder if all of this is preparation for the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or preparation for a season of financial transactions and consumer spending. There definitely seem to be other reasons for a long and elaborate season of preparation leading up to Christmas that has very little to do with welcoming God incarnate into the world.
In contrast, Lent is a season of preparation that the secular world has not found as much interest in. When those that observe Lent are denying themselves of worldly things, it is probably a difficult marketing task to invite people to increase spending. This being the case, the message that we are in a season of preparation leading up to Easter is not widely publicized. Many people can live for six days during the week and not spend a minute preparing our hearts and minds for the holiest week in the life of the Church. All of this can make Easter morning somewhat of a surprise. Of course we may see rabbits more often on television commercials or pastel colors decorating advertisements. Yet
There is also a lot of individual work that needs to be done in order to prepare us to encounter our risen Savior on Easter morning. We must acknowledge our sins and our human frailty and place that next to the image of God we were created in. How have we fallen short of what we were created for? When have we stepped away from the path that God is leading us down? What is distracting us from communing with God? In order to answer these questions we give up excessive things in our lives not to lose weight, become healthier, or save money. Instead of doing the things that would distract us, we should take that moment we would have been eating unhealthy food and spend it in prayer and being attentive to God. Instead of watching trashy television we can spend that time reading Scripture. Perhaps the energy we spend worrying about appearances and opinions could be spent discerning how we can live as the disciple God created us to be and sharing the light of Jesus Christ in the world.
While there is a lot of individual work to be done during this season of preparation we are not called or created to do it alone. We must support, encourage, and celebrate this work with others. We must also worship with and pray with and for each other. When we do all of this work, when we spend these forty days of preparation knowing that God is with us, we will find more peace and grace on Easter morning from having deeper faith knowing that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. For this truth, may God be glorified this day and always.
With peace and love,