Lent often gets a bad rap. It conjures images of somber reflection and amplification of our faults, misdeeds and bad habits. While these connections are not unmerited, they present such a negative way of viewing the life-giving practices of embracing God more fully and discerning more clearly the abundant life God calls us to.
From Ash Wednesday (March 1) to Easter (April 16), the season of Lent invites us to turn and return to God and God’s ways. It reminds us that we can become more Christlike, but this will take some focused attention and effort. The 40 days of Lent are reminiscent of Jesus 40 days in the wilderness, where he faced temptation and struggle, battling Satan and being tended to by the angels. It was a time of discerning God’s divine calling and how best to live into it.
Simply put, Lent invites us to reflect and to repent. What are the things that get in the way of our own discerning and living out God’s calling on our lives? This includes bad habits that we need to break, and good habits we need to cultivate. But Lent also is about something deeper. Lent is the cyclical reminder that we are dependent upon God, no matter how long we have been Christians, or how good we are at it. Lent allows us to live out the truth that we need God, and we need to turn (and return) to God on a regular basis. It also affirms that God is ever willing to walk with us, guide us and tend to us as we face temptation and struggle.
There is a poetic overlap between the season of Lent and the months in which it typically falls: February and March. Celebrating Black History and Women’s History allows us to repent as a nation and turn to a more complete understanding of the history of our country. We are reminded that our knowledge is incomplete, and we need to keep learning and growing in our understanding of the world. Likewise, Lent offers the invitation to keep learning and growing in our understanding of our dependence on God, and our calling to ever more fully live into who God is calling us to be.
This Lenten season, I invite you to open yourselves anew to the ways in which God is calling us to live even more fully into our identity as followers of Christ.
Peace for the journey,