I know today is Valentine’s Day, but quite frankly, I have no insights or wisdom in particular to share about Valentine’s, romance, or any of the other things related to the day. Instead, I’m going to look forward a couple weeks to Ash Wednesday, and the official beginning of Lent. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be using my posts to go a little deeper into the traditional Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and alms-giving, but today I wanted to talk a little bit about the season itself.
Lent is traditionally described as being a solemn, serious season of intense reflection and preparation. As we get ready to enter Lent, though, I think it’s a good idea for us to prepare by looking at the season in context. If Lent is a season of preparation, then obviously, the season won’t make sense in isolation. Preparation doesn’t make sense without knowing what we’re preparing for, after all. Lent is the season of the Cross and the Desert. Lent is a season which spends a great deal of time looking at our coming death in light of the death of Christ. It doesn’t sound particularly cheery, does it? That’s because we’re only looking at the first half of the story.
If we look at the whole picture, though, we see the purpose of Lent, with all it’s solemnity, seriousness, and sacrifice. Lent is necessary for Easter, just like death is necessary for the resurrection. To quote the old saying, “No rain, no rainbows.” With this understanding as our starting point for entering into Lent, we can begin to see our practices not as burdens, but instead as training for the glory that is to come. This is, in a very real way, the training for our lives in general, as well. All of the difficulties and sufferings of this life, without denying the reality of the suffering, can, and should, be understood in the context of the coming end of the story, the Heavenly Easter Paradise which waits for those who finish the race and claim the crown.
This is definitely the part of a Lenten post where a person talks about what to give up/take on/etc. for Lent, but I don’t know what my Lenten commitments are going to be yet, so I can’t. Never the less, I’d love to here from you all, either here or on Facebook, about your plans for Lent. God bless!