16 Feb What Is Lent?
There is a rhythm to the life of the church—an ebb and flow that has generated a calendar to live by. The two main events are Easter and Christmas: Jesus’ resurrection and His birthday. Easter is on or near the day of the actual event, while Christmas is more of a day set apart to celebrate the truth about the events around Jesus being born. They are important events that guide us through the life of the church.
Each of these events is powerful. They involved not only a celebration but anticipation. Christmas is preceded by Advent—a four-week period used to prepare for the miracle of Jesus’ incarnation: God putting on flesh. Lent is the 40-day season that prepares followers for the Resurrection of Jesus, and it begins this week.
Ash Wednesday is Valentine’s Day this year…yes, today. Historically, Lent was used as a season to prepare potential followers of Jesus to give themselves to Jesus. It was a time to reflect on sinfulness and the need for repentance, and people would fast and take on different disciplines to help them draw closer to God. While Lent is not that popular, the day before it is: Fat Tuesday.
There are many people who celebrate Fat Tuesday and not Lent. Just as there are many people who celebrate Easter without considering the abuse Jesus suffered or the horrendous death He died. We like partying it up at Mardi Gras but not going without for 40 days. We like the idea of Reese’s Eggs and Easter bunnies but not thinking about Jesus’ bruised, lifeless body being placed in a cold tomb.
The story of Jesus’ resurrection is the center of the Good News. Jesus wasn’t a philosopher who only wanted to teach the world a better way to live. The recurring theme in the Bible is reconciliation. Sacrifices were required…sacrifices ARE required. The Bible doesn’t say anything about Ash Wednesday, but the Bible does demand reflection and confession.
In the Old Testament, when Israel was not on right terms with God, life was interrupted. Something had to be done; sins had to be accounted for. This is still true, and Jesus is the sacrifice that makes things right with God. Jesus came because you and I cannot make things right with God on our own.
Lent is about that journey from sin and regret to reconciliation and everlasting joy. Christians around the world participate in Lent to help them remember their need for a Savior, so they can more fully appreciate Jesus. That is our goal: to appreciate Jesus.
We begin a new sermon series this week to help us better appreciate Jesus. We are looking at six reasons people give to NOT follow Jesus. Join us on our journey to Easter; it will be worth the effort.
Blessings to you,