|“Lent is hard.” That’s something that Pastors don’t often talk about. |
Advent – four weeks to get ready for Christmas Eve, no sweat. Getting ready for a baby, who doesn’t love that?
But Lent? 40 days when the focus is surrender, giving up attachments, repentance, metanoia (changing direction), and self-sacrifice. It’s not a real crowd pleaser of a topic, right? it’s to get ready for a “BIG” day in Easter when we celebrate and remember Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.
Yet, when I pause to reflect on the season of Lent, the truth is, it’s supposed to be tough. Lent is not supposed to be easy. We are supposed to open ourselves up to the refiner’s fire, to the prophet’s call to God’s justice and surrender, to allow our hearts to conform once more to God’s plan for our lives.
This isn’t easy. it means giving up things we’ve become quite fond of as well as flaws that feel like part of us – doubts and fears, and even impure hopes. I don’t know who I would be without those things.
Lent is hard. Fasting – if we chose to do this – is hard. Surrendering ourselves to God is hard – because we aren’t in control anymore. Giving up our vices – is hard. Allowing Jesus to call us, to use us, to fill us as God sees fit – that’s hard too because it pushes pieces of what we consider ourselves out of the picture.
Lent may be tough, but we’re all in this together, and through this process, God is forming us into one people. That’s what happened for 40 years in the desert as Israel wandered. The twelve tribes became one nation, one body, one people. God has a way of using the difficult seasons of life to form a community ready for the future. So, I invite you into this season that we can all be prepared for what comes next.
Rev. Nathan Carlson
Why We Observe Lent
The earliest mention of Lent in the history of the church comes from the council of Nicaea in 325 AD in which this preparatory period for Easter is described as lasting 40 days. Much earlier, Christians had introduced Easter Sunday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Soon afterwards, a period of two or three days of preparation, specially commemorating Christ’s passion and death – the ‘Holy Week’ part of Lent today – had been adopted by various Christian communities.
The forty days of Lent does not count Sundays and begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter.”
The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
The preparation for the coming of Easter is a time of self-examination, repentance and reflection. Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by new converts and then became a time of penance by all Christians. Today, Christians focus on relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending ourselves, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of ourselves for others.