Keeping A Holy Lent
The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the garden.
- Arab proverb
It is the season of Lent in the Christian tradition, and for many Christians, this is a season spent in reflection, repentance, and reconnection with God.
The fact that some of us choose to figure out what that means by giving up chocolate or coffee for forty days doesn't take away from the deep meaning embedded in this sacred time of year.
For the record, I'm not strong enough in my faith to give up coffee for forty days, which is good for just about every other person in my life. Chocolate---now that I could do standing on my head. To each her own, I suppose.
As we step into Lent, I'd love to begin by giving you some good reasons to embrace it--especially if you've never really observed Lent, or if you've given up observing it some time ago.
First, observing Lent can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people, but at its very essence, Lent is a time of preparation. If we choose to do so, we can spend the season of Lent preparing our hearts and our minds to die to ourselves and be raised to new life.
Also, for those of us who are trying to do our best to stumble after Jesus, Lent can be a time where we can renew our commitment, and seek to remove the obstacles that keep tripping us up on our way.
It takes courage to fully embrace the spirit of the Lenten season and to do the hard work of self-examination and the transformation that comes with it. It takes courage to follow Jesus to the Cross, to let go of our own desires and to adopt the mind of Christ.
It takes courage to know that the story you've been telling about yourself is not the whole story. Author and speaker Brene Brown puts it like this:
When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it, we get to write the ending. And when we don't own our stories of failure, setbacks, and hurt--they own us.The awesome truth for those of us who follow Jesus is that the ending we get to write is one that in large part is already written. It begins with one very important and powerful word: Risen.
Spend this Lent owning your story--all of it, including the difficult parts. Your past doesn't own you, you belong to God and God alone. And it is God in Christ who calls you forward in your journey to the Cross and to the Empty Tomb.
Keep a Holy Lent. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.