Along with our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world, we will begin the journey of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1. We will begin the journey this year by joining in worship with our friends from First Presbyterian and Holy Trinity Episcopal, turning our eyes towards the events of Jesus’ life, which lead us to Holy Week and eventually, Easter morning. We will remember the significant events that shape Jesus’ life and also ours.
Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Lent is a forty-day journey towards Easter. These forty days do not include Sundays. Lent has traditionally been a time of preparation. Throughout the history of the church, it has been a season, where new members of the church would prepare for baptism. For us, it is a time of reflection and study, repentance and discipleship. It is a time to reclaim aspects of our faith, practicing them together, which prepare us for the joy of Easter.
Lent lasts forty days, which is reminiscent of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism and before his ministry. It was a time of preparation. Since Lent is bound to the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, it has been a time of fasting, or giving something up. People have given up small things, like chocolate or soft drinks, so that when they feel the urge to have them, it is a reminder of the focus of Lent, which is the never-ending love of God.
During Lent, some people who do not give something up decide to add something to their days. For forty days, we could read one of the gospels. We could take time to remember what was important to Jesus, even making a list as we read the gospel. We could also spend time in prayer by taking a walk in the evenings. We could take time each week to write one letter of gratitude, sharing our thanksgiving for a friend, former teacher, or family member. We might also set aside time to volunteer at the Community Market or Habitat for Humanity. We can find one way to reclaim certain aspects of our faith, as we prepare for the good news of Easter.
The journey of Lent does not require any of this from us. It is simply an opportunity. We can embrace that opportunity in small ways whether we give up something, add something, or something else altogether. It is an active way to tie a string around our finger for forty days in order to remember the events of Jesus’ life, which lead us to Easter and the surprise of the grace of God.