The tradition of faith in which I was raised did not celebrate Lent. I hardly knew anything about it until in my fifties I was employed as pianist at the Methodist church in my home town.
It was a time of transition for me, a hard season when I carried a weight of sorrow. God sent me to that small congregation of loving people who built up my confidence, lavished me with love, and made me feel like a person.
While the traditional services were very different than my upbringing, I determined to enter into their style of worship with a whole heart. It was within this community that I learned about Lent.
The first year I was an observer. The second year I participated and gave up critical words, which I thought wouldn’t be that hard. I learned differently, finding my heart could be very critical even when I didn’t speak the words. It was a soul-searching experience.
I no longer attend that small church, but I carry with me a wealth of learning and love from my time there and the wisdom of the practice of Lent.
On this first day of the Lenten season for 2020, I contemplate how I can focus on Jesus’ journey toward Calvary’s cross. During the weeks leading us to Resurrection Sunday, I want to be intentional in opening my heart to the message that God was willing to pay my debt of sin, all because of love.
At Christmas we celebrate the God-man’s coming to earth with bright decorations, presents, family gatherings, and joy.
At Easter we celebrate life after death, defeat of the grave, miracles and wonders.
Lent is the in-between time, an arrow pointing us to Jesus’ determined journey toward Jerusalem, knowing His death was imminent. He would experience undeserved cruel and unusual punishment. He would be denied, abandoned, misunderstood, falsely accused, arrested, beaten, mocked, sentenced without a just trial, and led to his death.
The gospels give priority to the final weeks of Jesus’ life. There are details of the last meal with his close companions, the disciples. His trial and execution are reported thoroughly.
It would seem we should pay special attention. Can we do that together, pay special attention to what undoubtedly deserves our thoughtful consideration?
Each person will choose how to do that, whether by giving up something, adding to your daily spiritual practice, or simply noticing what is already a present activity. The purpose will be to remind us of the enormous and costly price our Lord paid for us, how His love for the souls of this world is beyond our comprehension, and that His sacrifice calls us to make a decision. The decision is to accept Him or not.
No other religion in the world offers grace like this. No other doctrine provides an eternal sacrifice for the sins of the world, for my sins. No one ever loved me like Jesus.
Will you join me on the journey to the cross?
We will meet here on Sundays and Wednesdays. I hope you will come along side. We can do this together.