Last Wednesday (Feb. 26) many Christians began observing Lent. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the Lenten Season encompasses 40 days of reflective consideration of the believer’s relationship with God the Father. Lent ends with the glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning. If this is new to you and you have decided to check out my counting, I will let you know up front that we do not count Sundays for they are days of celebration, praise, and thanksgiving for all the blessings God has given to us.
During the Lenten Season it is common for followers of Christ to consider the wilderness experience of Jesus as He was tempted by satan.
It is normal for Christians to give up (fast) some aspect of their life so that they are able to spend more quality time with the Lord through prayer, reading scripture, Bible study, giving of themselves to others in a Christ-like manner, acts of penance, etc… With contrite hearts, each of us is called to examine our lives and strive to focus our spiritual journey upon our relationship with God. In the process of giving up (fasting) the process leads to a time of feasting more fully in remembrance of His great work done on the cross.
The goal of Lent is to reach Easter with a cleansed heart ready to celebrate God’s glorious gift of resurrection promised to all who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Revelation 21:1-5 reveals to us that believers will be made totally new. “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Interestingly, the name for this season, Lent, comes to us from an Old English word lencten (related to “lengthen,” referring to the lengthening of days) that simply referred to the season of spring. The past few days, with warmer temperatures, most of us have certainly thought of the coming of Spring. The beauty of God’s created world will once again be revealed to us in the grass, trees, flowers, animals, sunshine, etc. etc. etc. Spiritual writers have long pointed out how this identification is spiritually beneficial. Lent is generally seen as a time of spiritual renewal, a type of “spiritual spring,” when a soul is renewed in fervor and cleansed of all impurities. God’s created humans have an opportunity to burst forth also. Lent is not only a time of renewing our relationship with Jesus. It is also a time to free ourselves from satan’s attempts to cause us to doubt our faith rather than being blessed by the harmony of God’s Amazing Grace.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The writer is the the chaplain at Ohio Living Dorothy Love and does pastoral care at Sidney First United Methodist Church.