Pastor Eugene Peterson once spoke of our desperate need for an "uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing."
The church season of Lent is an invitation to that uncluttered time. It is a chance act deliberately, and to put some space between ourselves and the frenzy of our busyness. It is a call to be quiet and to see what our busyness so often keeps us from recognizing. Namely, that we are dust, that we are creatures and not the Creator, and that we are as finite and fragile as the grass and flowers in the fields. At Lent, we remember that all flesh withers, falls, and fades.
And yet, not everything is passing.
The tension-filled beauty of Lent is that, while we soberly ponder our sin and great need, we also get to treasure the truth that the Word of our God will stand forever. And we take heart that this Word was with God in the beginning, and this Word was God. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines even in the deep darkness, but the darkness has not, and will not overcome the Light.
This Word has a name and a face. This Light has the air of eternity filling His lungs at this very moment. The eternal Word and the unquenchable Light is our resurrected and living hope, Christ Jesus.
Lent is a forty-day journey of rest, reflection, and repentance. The observance of Lent has traditionally incorporated spiritual disciplines like fasting and prayerful reflection on God’s Word. The season of Lent is very similar to the season of Advent. While Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas - when God came in flesh to dwell with His children, Lent is a time of preparation for Easter - when God rescued and redeemed His children through the suffering and victory of Jesus.
At Lent, we take heed of Martin Luther's words, that Jesus intends for the entire life of a believer to be one of repentance. The whole Christian life is a life of turning from disobedience to trusting Jesus all the more. Repentance is never easy but is always good, because we are always met with the grace of Jesus.
Lent is an invitation to reflect and to confess our great need and to delight in the far greater grace of Jesus.
Therefore, we will move through these forty days of Lent together, examining our hearts, confessing our sin, and pointing to the will of God to crush His Son to save us (Isaiah 53:10) and the love of God that raised Him for our justification (Romans 4:25).
I encourage you to accept the invitation of the Lenten season. Find ways to unclutter your time, to reflect in a way that leads to repentance.
Important Lenten Dates
Ash Wednesday – March 6
First Week of Lent begins Sunday, March 10
Holy Week begins Palm Sunday, April 14
Maundy Thursday – April 18
Good Friday – April 19
Easter Sunday – April 21
Resources for Lent
Ash Wednesday, Criticism, and the Fear of Death by Mike Cosper
Why We Need Ash Wednesday by Andy Adkison
Should Christians Observe Lent? Too Much Sin & Repentance? by Kristen Gilles
Yes and No: Lent and the Reformed Faith Today by John Witvliet
This article was written by Rev. Dr. Jeffrey D. Heine, Shepherding Pastor, Senior Pastor Team at Redeemer Community Church, Birmingham, AL.