Lent, that season before Easter, is known for abstaining and fasting. But it is more than that. It’s a learning lab with a deadline.
Lent as a 40-Day Love Challenge
Ash Wednesday | Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Today is the first day of Lent. Like many Christians, all over the world, I got up and focused on devotion. I’m listening to a reflection each day, reading Scripture, and starting this season with a kind of fasting we truly only do this time of year.
I, like many of you, like my parents before me, was taught to take this season with intention. So I do. In the past, I abstained from sweets, including artificial sweeteners. I’ve taken things on, like learning to drink black coffee. I read devotionals daily and tried over and over to practice a private faith privately, even from a very public position.
And all of this intention has a way of feeling like Christian New Year’s resolutions. Made to be broken.
At the root of all of this stuff that we associate with Lent is actually something really simple. Something we’ll hear in just a moment when I invite you to observe a Holy Lent. That if we go all the way back to those first people building our traditions, trying their best to follow Christ, we’ll find a very simple idea.
They set aside a season for learning.
The discipline itself isn’t the point. They’re trying to do something important. The kind of thing you’re not going to do unless you sit down and make yourself do it.
What they wanted to do was to learn how to do the impossible: to be open to change and forgiveness.
How to embody what Jesus told Peter years before. How many times should we forgive? Not seven times, but seven times seven. He may as well have said, how about 24/7.
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