Tomorrow begins the season of Lent, a time of preparation, 40 days before the celebration of Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, on which we will receive the mark of the cross from ashes on our forehead to signify our mortality as well as our repentance from sin and dependence on Jesus’ death for us, or we could say, on the basis of Jesus’ death for us. During Lent Christians traditionally carry on purposeful fasts.
Being forty days, approximately six weeks and just over a tenth of the year, Lent can seem long for those who see it as simply a time of giving up something. But that time can help us get into new rhythms of living, helping some replace what is not good with something good. For example some people may have addictions of one kind or another. I wonder if in some way most all of us struggle to some extent with something that may not even be bad in itself, and may give us some relief from the normal stress of everyday life. But find ourselves attached to it to the point that we can hardly let it go. While it may be okay, it also may be crowding out some things that are more important. We might do well during Lent to address that in some way. It may be a small way, but it may help set us on a better path which can continue afterward.
And there’s the idea of purposeful sacrifice. Perhaps cutting back or cutting out this or that luxury and setting the money aside normally spent on that to help the poor in some way. This most often is something personal and individual, but it could be a good exercise for a family, to help ingrain in the children something of this practice.
I look forward to the season of Lent as part of a liturgical church, Prince of Peace Anglican Church. For me, this will be a learning process, even though at our last church we did practice both Ash Wednesday and Lent. I was raised in a non-liturgical church, for years being part of those kinds of churches. So the instruction and practice that comes with such seasons is something relatively new to me. And I have in mind what I want to do during Lent.
Above all, in all of this we want to reflect on our Lord’s suffering, the meaning of his death and resurrection, and our identification with that as part of our salvation in this present life. So that with Paul we might say this: