Monday, March 06, 2006

for the love of Lent

Everyone seems to have a favorite season. Some love Fall – the colors, the back-to-back holidays. Some love Spring – the flowers, the warming air. My favorite season? Lent. That old saying – it’s not the destination but the journey that matters – that’s how I appreciate Lent.

We enter into Lent dusting ourselves with ashes, acknowledging in worship and in ritual that we are mortal. Because of our mortality, we cannot hope to overcome death. Because of our depravity, we cannot hope to overcome sin. And so as we begin Lent, we turn to the one who can and has overcome both sin and death. We turn to Christ and we follow him – as best we can – on his journey to the cross.

We follow with sacrifices of our own – giving up that favorite dessert or perhaps that habit of ours which we have long wanted to let go. We follow by taking up new practices – daily prayer journaling or working at the soup kitchen once a week. We follow, keeping Christ’s sacrifice on the forefront of our minds by what we have given or taken up, trying to participate in Christ’s journey as best we can.

We go through this journey, year after year, because it is only by walking this path that we might truly appreciate Easter. If we are to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the hope of eternal life we have through him, we must first observe Christ’s journey to the cross. In this long and oft challenging season of Lent, we have sacred space in which we might come to appreciate what Christ gave to us, what Christ sacrificed for us.

I love Easter but I know I could not shout with true joy “Christ is risen!” had I not spent the six weeks of Lent looking toward the cross.

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