Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Taking On Lent


Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday, six weeks before Easter Sunday. It is a time of repentance and preparation. The ashes on the first day of this season represent mourning over sin and the longing for holiness. In Lent, we remember the temptation of Christ in the wilderness and His journey to the Cross. We become aware of how Christ humbled himself and how God calls us, also, to humility as we participate in his redemptive purposes. We consider, also, what our own place of service and sacrifice is in his divine plan.

Lent concludes with Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we think of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, knowing that soon he would be rejected by the Jewish leaders. The irony of this is subtly observed by the burning of this year’s palms to become next year's Lenten ashes.

Many Christians talk about what they are “giving up” for Lent. But that needs to be understood in the context of what we are taking on. That is, what am I willing to let go of so that I may accomplish the destiny God has for me? Jesus extends this invitation:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:29-30)
Paul reckoned it this way:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The forty days of Lent is an opportunity to enter again into the purpose, passion and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and be made more like him.