Lent and community

There is a sense in which we necessarily follow Christ alone. We can’t depend on the commitment of others; we must be committed ourselves. Someone else can’t do it for us, not even by their prayers. In answer to their prayers, we must enter and remain on the straight and narrow ourselves.

Just the same, community is important on a number of levels. We are called as individuals into community. When the disciples followed Jesus to Jerusalem where he had told them he was to suffer, be killed and on the third day be raised to life, they did so together. They were in this together for better and for worse. Each one for sure needed to do their part, but somehow the dynamic of the community they were was greater than the sum total of all their parts.

And so Lent is a personal time of reflection in preparation for Holy Week in which we especially want to be open to the Lord in becoming aware of our sin so that we might confess them and repent, a time of drawing nearer to our Lord to, in the words of the Apostle Paul, become like him in his death. And yet Lent is together, as well. We are never meant to either go it alone, nor are we meant to find our identity only in ourselves and in our Lord. Somehow our identity is found in fellowship with others as well, especially those who with us are of the family of believers, of the faithful in Jesus.

And so both dynamics are vitally important. We need a certain kind of solitude and fortitude that is within ourselves in the grace of God in Jesus by the Spirit. But along with that we were made for communion with the Triune God and the community of the redeemed. Both are essential to the fullness of life that is ours in Jesus.  God calls us in his grace to growth in each. In our becoming more and more like his Son, Jesus.

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