Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lenten Thoughts

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent remind us that we are the dust of the earth ~ and the breath of God. The season of Lent is a time to consider again what it means to live out our Baptism in the world.

Here is a quote I came across in my reading. I was impressed enough with it to put it up on my Facebook page, though I did not initially think of it in the context of Lent. But upon reflection, I see that it does have a Lenten meaning.
And to the question, “What is meant by the Fall?” I could answer with complete sincerity, “That whatever I am, I am not myself.” This is the prime paradox of our religion; something that we have never in any full sense known, is not only better than ourselves, but even more natural to us than ourselves. ~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Lent is a season to consider King Jesus the Messiah, who He is and who we are in Him, to become who we are. Not only in what we leave behind, but also in the yoke we are called to take upon ourselves — His yoke, which is easy and the burden light. To learn from Him who is gentle and lowly in heart, and so find the rest for which our souls are so desperate (Matthew 11:29).

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, six weeks before Easter Sunday. Like Advent, 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 very ones who waved their branches and shouted Hosanna! The irony of this is subtly observed by the burning of this year's palms to become next year’s Lenten ashes.

Holy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Lord’s Supper. It is also called Maundy Thursday because of the new commandment Jesus gave His disciples to love one another (maundy comes from an Old Latin term for “mandate” or “command”). On Good Friday, we think of Jesus on the Cross and behold the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Holy Saturday recalls how the world hung between death and life, sin and righteousness, darkness and light. It is a vigil for the Light.